The Negroni, with its complex bittersweet flavours, needs just three ingredients, in equal ratio—dry gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Ideally, the quantity for each is 20ml or 30ml. Take a mixing glass, put big ice cubes or a large chunk of ice (small ice-cubes will dilute it), pour the ingredients one by one, and carefully stir to cool and combine. Strain into an Old-Fashioned glass containing big ice cubes. Alternatively, pour it into a coupe glass for an elegant take. Finish with a squirt of orange peel that doubles up as garnish. This ensures the right balance of the bittersweet flavour to create a bar-style drink.
Then, the fun begins. You can tweak a few ingredients—those partial to smoky flavours can top up with a smoky whisky and use an aero press if coffee cravings kick in. Lounge spoke to five beverage experts to deconstruct how they riff the negroni.
Karina Aggarwal, founder of Gigglewater Beverage Concepts, Delhi
“There’s a lesser known riff on a traditional Negroni which swaps the sweet vermouth with dry, called the Cardinale. The easy part about a Negroni is outside of saying equal parts each of gin, vermouth and Campari, you don’t really need to specify the quantities. So, let’s say there’s 20 or 30 ml sweet vermouth, it can be replaced with an equal measure of dry vermouth for the Cardinale, which is a classic cocktail in itself. Originally it used Riesling wine so even a semi-dry wine would work instead of the vermouth.”
Pankaj Balachandran, co-founder of beverage consultancy Bar-Back Collective, Delhi
“I am a big fan of the classic Negroni. But, if I have to tweak it, I experiment with the vermouth. The most readily available vermouth in India is Martini Rosso, but there are phenomenal varieties, like the Cocchi Americano, Avernas and Amaros. To discover various styles, take a classic Negroni and try different gins and vermouths, while Campari remains unchanged. But if I have to move away from the classic, then it’s a smoky Negroni for me. Top up the traditional drink with 5ml of either smoky whisky or mezcal to take it to the next level.”
Shreyansh Patel, assistant beverage manager, Perch Wine & Coffee Bar, Mumbai
“The Aeropress Coffee Negroni draws from the essence of Perch. It is a coffee-, wine- and cocktail-centric place. Infusing Negroni with coffee came naturally to us. We make our Negroni with Greater Than gin, sweet vermouth by Carpano’s Antica Formula and Campari. Now, all you have to do is take coffee powder in an aero press and instead of passing hot water through it, use Negroni. You will get a drink with a comforting coffee flavour. Another Negroni variation, for those who love chocolate, is with cacao nibs. Infuse the sweet vermouth (250ml) with cacao nibs (100 gms). Leave this mixture undisturbed for two days. Then use it to make a Negroni with an indulgent chocolate-y finish.”
Vidhi Puri, founder of the digital publication The Cocktail Story, Mumbai
“Indian bartenders are crazy about the Negroni and I can have it any time of the day. To make a lighter version, try replacing sweet vermouth with a splash of sparkling rosé. It’s a pretty and bubbly take on a classic cocktail.”
Rahul Raghav, bar manager, The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro, Mumbai
“My love for rum is eternal. For a spin on Negroni, instead of gin, I use aged rum with notes of raisin, chocolate and vanilla. The quantities change slightly: 25ml Diplomático rum, 30ml Campari and 25ml sweet vermouth. If there’s chocolate bitter, I add a dash to upgrade the overall experience. In Europe, gin is swapped with Sobieski vodka to create a Negroski.”