A classic negroni is easy-to-make and refreshingly bittersweet. It's made with equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth and garnished with orange peel. It's the perfect pre-dinner drink, and it's ready in just 5 minutes!
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Few cocktails compare to the simple yet sophisticated negroni. It's our go-to pre-dinner drink that always manages to transport us directly to a terraza in Italy.
It's characteristically bitter with sweet and fruity notes to balance it out. With equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, it's an easy recipe to make, and even easier to memorize.
While negronis can be an acquired taste, there are lots of ways to tweak the flavors by experimenting with different gins or sweet vermouths. Campari is the one ingredient that nearly all negronis have in common, but each spirit will lend its own subtle notes that will impact the overall outcome of the drink. Play around until you zero in on the perfect trio to suit your palate!
There's no shaking involved in the making of a negroni. Just pour the ingredients into a mixing glass or mason jar with ice, give it a good stir, and then strain it into a rocks glass. The orange peel is used as a garnish, but don't skip it. It actually lends a lot of complexity that you'll notice while you're drinking.
Its bittersweetness makes a negroni the perfect apéritif (aka pre-dinner drink), traditionally consumed in Italy during the aperitivo hours of 7-9 pm.
What is a Negroni?
A Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail made from equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth. It's a bittersweet, spirit-forward drink that's traditionally served in a rocks glass over ice and garnished with a strip of orange peel.
Although its origins are unclear, it was purportedly invented in Florence, Italy in the early 1900s. The Italian count, Camillo Negroni, is said to have asked for his favorite cocktail, an americano, to be strengthened with gin instead of soda water. The bartender garnished it with an orange peel instead of lemon, and that was the beginning of the famous Negroni!
Classic negroni ingredients
You may be wondering, what is in a negroni? Well, you only need four simple ingredients to make it. Here's what you'll need:
- Campari – this brilliant red-colored apéritif is made from a proprietary blend of herbs and spices, and gives the negroni its classic bittersweet taste!
- Gin – a mixing-quality, London dry gin such as Beefeater or Tanqueray, is all you need for a Negroni. We usually go for a mid-range priced bottle that isn't quite sipping quality, but also isn't bottom of the barrel.
- Sweet vermouth – a perfect negroni calls for sweet vermouth. It's sweet and herbal and has a big impact on the overall outcome of this cocktail, so it may be worth it to splurge on a decent bottle such as Carpano Antica Formula. If you can find a locally made sweet vermouth, go for that. But widely available Martini & Rossi or Cinzano work well, too.
- Orange peel – the orange peel isn't just for garnish, so don't skip it! It adds complexity to the drink which you'll notice with every sip.
How to make a classic negroni
It's good to have a repertoire of drinks you can make on the fly, and a negroni is one of those classic cocktails that's easy to make and memorize. Let's make one!
- To start, fill a cocktail shaker or tall mixing glass halfway full with ice.
- Next, add the Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth and give it a gentle stir until it's cold.
- Strain it into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and add the orange peel for garnish. If you like the orange flavor, you can give the orange peel a twist over the glass for more orange flavor.
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
Swap out the gin for soda water, and the orange peel for a lemon wedge, and you have yourself a low-alcohol version called an americano cocktail.
Mixing quality gins are a good choice for Negronis. We tend to go for a mid-range priced bottle that isn't super-low quality, but that also isn't sipping quality.
A Negroni is a spirit-forward drink that tastes strong but is well-balanced when made properly.
Yes, but it will dramatically change the flavor. If this is your first Negroni, we recommend sticking with sweet vermouth to experience what a true Negroni tastes like.
How to make an orange twist
Orange peel is a key component of any classic Negroni. It's used as a garnish but the oils accentuate the flavors of the cocktail. Making an orange twist is a pretty way to present it, too. Let's make one!
- First, make sure your orange is washed and dried.
- Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove a 2-inch piece of orange peel, trying to avoid the pith (the white part on the inside).
- Trim the edges of the orange peel, slice the ends at an angle, and twist it into shape with your fingers. That's it!
Make ahead negroni
A Negroni is a perfect drink to make for a crowd as it can easily be made in a large batch ahead of time. As it's made with equal parts of each alcohol, it's simple to scale up. Here's how to make a negroni pitcher:
- 1 cup gin
- 1 cup Campari
- 1 cup sweet vermouth
Simply add the ingredients to a pitcher and store it in your fridge. At party time, add some ice and start pouring!
When to serve a classic negroni
A Negroni is the perfect pre-dinner drink for any night of the week. It's simple enough to enjoy on a weeknight, yet sophisticated enough for entertaining. Its bittersweetness is perfect for whetting the appetite, and would naturally pair well with any Italian-inspired menu.
A few of our favorite Italian main dishes
The Negroni has been experimented with greatly over its 100-year history and there are all sorts of recipe variations. Perhaps you've tried a bubbly negroni sbagliato that swaps gin for prosecco. Or sub the gin for bourbon and call it a boulevardier. Transform it into a white negroni by swapping the Campari and vermouth for Lillet and Suze for a French twist on the Italian classic cocktail!
While there are many delicious ways to enjoy it, you can't beat the beloved classic Negroni.
More negroni recipes
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- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce gin
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 strip orange peel
- Fill a cocktail shaker or large glass jar halfway full with ice. Add the Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth and stir until it's cold.1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- Put a large format ice cube (or 2-3 regular-sized ice cubes) into a rocks glass.
- Strain your negroni into a rocks glass with a large ice cube and garnish with a slice of orange peel.1 strip orange peel