It couldn’t be simpler: Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. Just three ingredients, mixed together in equal parts and the ‘perfect cocktail’, a Negroni, is yours.
Such is the widespread popularity of the cocktail that this June, 4th – 10th, bars all across Ireland will be participating in Negroni Week 2018.
An annual celebration of the classic Italian cocktail, Negroni Week is brought to us by Campari, Italy’s unmistakeable and iconic red, bitter apéritif.
An international initiative, through those seven days Irish bartenders will be making Negronis with a purpose with many of the bars opting to donate some proceeds from each Negroni sale to a local charity.
We met up with Loris Contro, International Campari Brand Ambassador at NoLita, Dublin, at the Irish launch of the week long event to chat about all things Negroni.
And while Negroni Week is all too short, Loris insists that a Negroni, and it’s essential ingredient Campari, is no Summer fling.
“You’ll Never get sick of Campari. Once you fall in love, you’ll never fall out of love. It’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had,” Loris says with lashings of Italian charm and his signature smile.
Read on for why Loris says Negroni is the perfect cocktail, why Campari is a non negotiable addition, and for his favourite twists on the classic recipe…
Why is the Negroni universally called ‘the perfect cocktail’?
Because it’s perfectly balanced. You’ve got sweet of the vermouth, dry gin and bitter Campari.
In fact, the American chef Anthony Bourdain said that he doesn’t like any of the ingredients in a Negroni when drank on their own.
He doesn’t like gin. He doesn’t like vermouth. He doesn’t like Campari. But he says when he puts all three together it becomes the perfect drink.
How did you develop a relationship with Campari?
It was in 2011. I was working as a bartender in an Italian restaurant in London and I was looking for a change.
I was very passionate about pushing the aperitivo and Negroni and the owner of the restaurant suggested I get in touch with Campari and ask whether they were looking for an authentic Italian ambassador to promote the brand.
I couldn’t even speak English properly at the time – but I can smile for the longest time ever, so I got the job!
What differentiates Campari from other Italian aperitifs?
Campari is iconic. If you are Italian you’ve grown up with it. If you’re not it’s that red bottle behind the bar, it always intrigues you.
When is Campari traditionally enjoyed in Italy?
We drink Campari all year round. It’s the drink of choice for the Italian aperitivo.
An aperitivo is a celebration, and we celebrate life in Itlay on a daily basis. Actually, three times a day!
Before lunch, after work and before dinner. Food is always involved.
What foods pair well with a Negroni?
I like to keep it simple. For me, focaccia and cured ham is perfection.
What is the secret to the perfect Negroni?
The perfect Negroni is whatever suits you. What suits me is equal parts of the sweet vermouth, the gin and the campari. You can’t go wrong.
Can you make a Negroni without gin?
There are so many twists on a Negroni! You can make a Rosita by swapping the gin for tequila. You can make scotch Negroni using peated malt whiskey.
You can even make an Irish Negroni using an Irish whiskey. Another alternative is called a Boulevardier. You swap out the gin in a Negroni for bourbon whiskey.
What’s your favourite twist on a Negroni?
It was one I tried at a Campari pop-up bar we did two year’s ago in London. Rhubarb puree was added to the usual sweet vermouth, gin and campari – it was incredible.
Another favourite of mine is made with Prosecco, a Negroni Sbagliato. It’s equal parts sweet vermouth and Campari topped up with Prosecco.
Sbagliato means ‘mistaken’ in Italian. The story goes that it was created when a bartender mistakenly grabbed a bottle of Prosecco instead of gin when making a Negroni.
He was most likely distracted by a beautiful lady sitting in front of him. Well, that’s my personal take on it anyway…
Besides from a Negroni what’s your favourite way to drink Campari?
There are two actually. One is a Dry Daiquiri, which is a daiquiri made with Campari and passionfruit liquor instead of sugar, and the other is the Boulevardier.
Negroni Week 2018 takes place this June 4th – 10th. You can see the list of participating venues by logging on to www.negroniweek.com
Follow fun or join the conversation at #NegroniWeek #Negroni #Campari
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law degree, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.