Ah, the Negroni. As sexy as a silky red dress. The folks at Imbibe Magazine and Campari love it so much, they have organized an entire week, Negroni Week, to celebrate it while raising money for charitable causes around the world.
This year, the third annual Negroni Week will be held June 1-7 at 33 bars in Austin. Participating bars will mix Negroni variations and donate a portion of proceeds to a charity of their choice. More than 1,300 bars participated in 2014 and raised more than $120,000 for local charities.
The Negroni cocktail traces its origins to Florence, Italy starting in early 20th century and it has grown to be a staple because of its simplicity and balance of sweet and bitter flavors. The classic recipe is one part each of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. How could you mess that up?
A great way to show Texas pride is to make Negronis with locally distilled gin. We asked Pam Pritchard, owner of The Tigress Pub, to lead us in a blind tasting of five Texas-made brands of gin including Austin Reserve Gin, Dripping Springs Gin, Genius Gin, Moody June Gin and Waterloo Gin. We tried them straight and in identically made Negronis.
Each gin had its strengths and the majority were downright delicious. The Waterloo Gin stood out as a favorite in our blind tasting. When blended in the Negronis, the individual botanical recipes of each gin brought out different flavor characteristics of the cocktail. The Austin Reserve Gin showed the best, with a lovely balance of booziness, herbal, citrus, sweet and bitter flavors all in one glass. Yum.
Many bars in town carry one or more of these local gins. In addition, several bars have created special recipes that substitute one or more of the classic ingredients in delicious variations on the Negroni. A few of our favorites include:
- Rosé Sbagliato at drink.well.: Unique twist that includes Amaro Montenegro, rosé vermouth, grapefruit liqueur and sparkling rosé
- Western Union at East Side Show Room: Smoky mezcal, punt e mes and Campari
- More Cowbell at The Hightower: A mixture of Kinsman Rakia, Aperol and blanc vermouth
- The Classic Negroni on tap at Italic
- Oh Sherry at The Tigress Pub: Made with Waterloo Gin, Contratto Vermouth Blanco and Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
- The Walking Spanish Midnight Cowboy: A delightful concoction of Vago Espadin Elote Mezcal, La Guita Manzanilla Sherry, Bigallet China-China Quinquina and grapefruit peel
- Lemon verbena gin-infused white Negroni at Searsucker
- Aged Negroni at VOX Table: Barrel-aged Waterloo Antique Gin, Campari and Cocchi Torino