There is no doubt that the classic Negroni is one of the most popular cocktails around the world. And some facts about it we know to be true; it was created in 1919 by Camillo Negroni in the Café Casoni bar in Florence; and it is a straightforward but delicious combination of equal parts gin, bitter and sweet vermouth. However, how it then went on to be so popular is a hotly debated topic. We’ve picked our three favourite theories below.
Our Love of Bitter Flavours
One theory – which is supported by Campari’s David Karraker – is that the ubiquity of other bitter foods such as kale, coffee and dark chocolate have all paved the way for the rise of the Negroni.
The western palate over the last few decades has moved on from the sweet drinks, such as the cosmopolitan which reigned supreme in the 90’s and 00’s, and onto things like bourbon and bittersweet Campari. Negronis feel more sophisticated and refined than sugary cocktails. And, while strong, it is always balanced in flavour.
What’s more, for those of people who’s palates are still adapting, a classic Negroni recipe can be tweaked to increase or decrease sweetness. Or, it can be transformed into an entirely new cocktail, Negroni Sbagliato (which means mistake in Italian) – this is essentially a Negroni, topped with prosecco and served over ice.
You can read more about this theory over at Vogue.
A Complete Coincidence
For a good part of a century, the Negroni remained a quiet classic, readily available in Italian restaurants and bars, beloved by cocktail connoisseurs, but not really part of anyone else’s vocabulary.
However, over the last decade there has been a resurgence of two cocktail staples: gin (especially small-batch, craft gins) and bitters. These two revivals – which happen to make up two thirds of the Negroni – perfectly prepped drinkers’ taste buds.
This, coupled with Campari snapping up the Wild Turkey distillery in the U.S. in 2009 and declaring 2011 The Year of the Negroni, which was all swiftly followed by Negroni Week rising to popularly in 3,500 venues across 42 countries in 2015, definitely didn’t hinder the rise of the humble Negroni’s popularity.
You can read more about this theory over at Condé Nast Traveler.
The Pre-Prohibition Revival in America
Count Camillo Negroni is often cited as the one who, when in Florence, asked the bartender to make a stronger version of the Americano – and the Negroni was born. At this time, Europe became the de facto cocktail capital during American Prohibition and Negronis were served from Florence to Rome, to Paris and even London. It then ended up in the States when Count Camillo, who was a cowboy and a gambler, took it with him.
While in the immediate years following the end of prohibition American drinkers began a decades-long love affair with sweet cocktails, such as Harvey Wallbangers and Margaritas, bartenders’ innate curiosity and love of experimenting with different combinations brought the Negroni back to life. Pre-Prohibition cocktails came back into fashion, and rekindled the joy of the Negroni – one that soon spread outside of America and across the world.
You can read more about this theory over at Departures.
However we re-discovered our love of Negronis, we’re so glad we did so we can share our favourite serve – a classic equal parts gin, bitter and sweet vermouth with orange essence – with you via our Primo Aperitivo Negroni.