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Mezcal Negroni is a smoky twist on a classic cocktail. The assertive, smoke-like flavor of mezcal pairs well with bitter Campari and sweet vermouth. If you're a Negroni fan, you need to try this version!
AKA Oaxacan Negroni or Mexican Negroni
We've given our favorite, iconic cocktail an update and it *might* be even better than the original. While we will always have a big soft spot in our hearts for the gin version, swapping that with mezcal is a surprisingly good idea.
Mezcal has a wonderful smoky taste and is plenty bold enough to stand up to the big flavors in Campari and sweet vermouth. The three play very well together to create a complexly flavored drink that is very easy to sip.
If you've ever been curious about making a Negroni with mezcal, do it. You'll be happy you did!
How to make a mezcal negroni
Making a mezcal negroni is the easiest thing in the world! Because you mix equal parts of each liquor it's super easy to scale the quantity up or down. Serving a crowd? Pour a cup (or 2!) of each into a pitcher with a little ice. Enjoying one by yourself? Use a single shot glass.
- Put a handful of ice into a cocktail mixing glass or large mason jar. Add 1 part of each liquor then stir it with a long spoon for about 30 seconds. You don't want to use too much ice or stir it for too long as it will dilute the cocktail.
- Put (preferably) a large ice cube, or 2-3 small ice cubes, into a rocks glass and pour the mezcal negroni over the top.
- Now, all that you need to do is garnish the drink with either a strip of orange peel, a thin slice of orange, or a dehydrated orange wheel.
This mezcal negroni (like a classic negroni) is made with just three ingredients: Campari, mezcal, and sweet vermouth.
And a negroni is always garnished with a strip of orange zest, a thin slice of orange, or (our favorite) a dehydrated orange wheel.
What is Campari
Campari is an Italian aperitif with a wonderfully bitter flavor. It was first invented by Gaspare Campari in 1860 and has since taken the world by storm.
Its incredibly complex sweet and bitter flavors are not for the faint of heart. But once you fall in love with it, there's no going back.
With its iconic, bright red color and assertive bittersweet orange flavor, Campari is the one ingredient in a negroni that can't be substituted.
What is mezcal
Mezcal is an agave-based liquor produced in Mexico with a distinct smoky flavor.
While tequila and mezcal are both made from the agave plant, they're processed differently which gives them different flavor profiles.
After agave is harvested for mezcal it is smoked inside a large earthen pit with wood and charcoal. Once it's cooked, it's distilled into clay pots. This process gives mezcal its wonderful smokiness.
What is sweet vermouth?
Sweet vermouth (also known as red vermouth, vermouth rosso, or Italian vermouth) is a fortified wine that has been infused with different botanicals.
As the name suggests, sweet vermouth is quite sweet. The actual flavor of it varies widely depending on the brand that you buy. And while it's certainly possible to buy an expensive bottle of sweet vermouth, even the cheapest at your liquor store will make a great negroni.
Tips for making the best mezcal negroni
- While it's not necessary to buy top-shelf mezcal for mixing drinks, quality does count. You'll enjoy this drink most if you make it with mezcal that you like to sip.
- Don't use too much ice when building the negroni – you don't want to dilute it.
- Use large-format ice cubes to prevent your negroni from getting watered down. We love Peak Ice Works ice cube molds. We use either spheres or large cubes, depending on the size of the glass we use.
- If you don't have large ice cubes, only add 2-3 small pieces of ice to your glass.
- Always garnish your negroni with orange. While garnishes sometimes are just for looks, the bitter smell of the orange elevates every sip you take. Don't skip it!
How to serve a mezcal negroni
While a negroni is certainly a sophisticated cocktail, it doesn't need to be a fancy affair. At a party, we make a big pitcher and put a stack of short bodega glasses beside it and let guests help themselves.
A mezcal negroni can also be premixed and brought along to a dinner party or even an afternoon at the beach. We've even taken a premixed bottle camping so we can enjoy an easy sip around the fire.
But you can also pull out your fanciest cocktail glasses and make an occasion out of this. A mezcal negroni loves a fancy cocktail party.
- 1 ounce mezcal
- 1 ounce campari
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- Strip of orange peel, thin orange slice, or a dehydrated orange wheel (to garnish)
- Put a small handful of ice into a cocktail mixing glass or mason jar.
- Add the mezcal, Campari, and sweet vermouth and stir for 30 seconds.
- Put a large ice cube into a rocks glass then strain the negroni into the glass. Garnish with one of the orange options.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.