Classic Cocktail: Negroni. From Hate to Love
The first time I had a Negroni, I really disliked it. I found it harsh and bitter. It made me recall as a teenager drinking lemonade with a dash of Campari. The bitterness of the Campari was so intense that I literally spat the drink out and poured the remainder down the sink. Fast forward to my cocktail drinking days, and sampling a Negroni cocktail had a similar effect. The intensity of the Campari was still too much for my palette.
I’m one of those people who loves finding things out: I love researching something that interests me, and one of those things that I have developed a great interest in, amongst a myriad of other things, is gin. There are so many different gins and it has a wonderfully colourful history that is worth digging in to if you, like me, you find that sort of thing fascinating.
A few Christmases ago, I was gifted a few of books on gin. One was a fascinating read called Gin Glorious Gin, all about the history of this spirit from its introduction to the UK back in the 18th century, through its sordid adolescence as depicted by Hogarth in his Gin Lane pictures, to its renaissance today as a sophisticated and highly individual drink with more flavours than there are distilleries.
Another book was called Gin: The Manual. This, as its name suggests, is more of a handbook of gin. It covers a bit of the history as well as various mixers, cocktail recipes and reviews of more than 120 different gins from all corners of the globe. The author, Dave Broom, puts gins into five basic flavour camps. Juniper forward, citric, spicy/herbal, floral and others. From that basic premise, he then gives some altered ratios for classic gin cocktails like a G&T, Martini, and – you guessed it – the Negroni that I had hitherto so despised.
Since realising that the flavour camp of the gin has such an effect on the flavour and therefore the enjoyment of a Negroni, I have had a lot of fun playing with the basic 1 Gin, 1 Rosso Vermouth, 1 Campari proportions to create the perfect drink. I have even been known to experiment with swapping the Campari for Aperol, which again completely changes the taste of the Negroni; sometimes for the better, other times to its detriment.
The gin I used for this particular Negroni was Hendrick’s. I find this a good all round gin that works well in most cocktails with no more than three ingredients. This is a more coriander forward, and therefore put in the spicy gin camp. For this style of gin, Dave Broom recommends upping the gin and reducing the Campari.
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HENDRICK’S NEGRONI COCKTAIL RECIPIE
2 measures Hendrick’s gin
1 measure red vermouth
½ measure Campari
Grab a large tumbler and put a large ice ball or plenty of ice into it. Pour over the gin, vermouth and Campari and give it a good stir and garnish with a big orange zest. Have a little taste then add adjust as you feel necessary.