When you ask someone which cocktail they love, the Negroni may be the first thing that comes to mind. It’s such a phenomenon that you can find one on pretty much any menu, or simply request it at a bar. As I mentioned in an earlier column, Anthony Bourdain loved this drink so much that he called it “the perfect cocktail”. There’s even a Bubbly Negroni that was invited for Valentine’s Day; the sex appeal can’t be denied.
This year, the cocktail turns 100 years old. We have two guys to thank for the libation with a love story at the heart of it all.
The Negroni is named after Count Camillo Negroni, who was known for being quite a character. The Count went into his favorite cafe and wanted an Americano (created by Gaspare Campari) with a bit more alcohol. That’s when a bartender replaced the soda for gin, and just like that a famous cocktail was born. There are three main ingredients to make a Negroni: Campari, gin, and vermouth. While you can use any gin or vermouth, there is only one Campari.
Most people know the liqueur because it’s in almost every bar and restaurant around the world. Did you know that behind it all is a love story? As you know back in the day, people named everything after themselves, which is why you probably won’t be surprised to find out that in 1860 a man named Gaspare Campari started a small family business to make aperitifs. When he died, his two sons took over the business. It was David Campari who started using celebrities in the Campari posters. Basically, Campari was rocking with celebs before it was cool.
In the midst of it all, Davide Campari fell in love with a famous Italian opera singer, Lina Cavalleri. She was also known as the “greatest beauty in the world”. She was definitely a lovely lady; in regard to singing, let’s just say her looks probably got her hired. Davide fell madly in love with Lina and followed her on a world tour. Today, we might call that stalking, whereas during their time it was thought of as “charming”. As they traveled to Milan, Moscow, and New York, Davide started selling his families products to bars and restaurants. The small family business grew into a worldwide sensation. While the business became a success, it’s sad to say that Lina wasn’t really feeling Davide. She married someone else, while he would pine for her until the day he died.
The love story started off between a man and woman, but grew into the world’s love for a bitter liqueur. I guess that’s what makes the story so bittersweet.
May your love story turn out much better. Enjoy a Negroni or two with your boo during Negroni Week. If you are rocking the single life, get together with your squad and celebrate the single life.
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.