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The Black Negroni is a darker, moodier variation on the classic cocktail

Swap in the Italian amaro Averna to add a spicy chocolate note to your negroni

Paul Minami / Unsplash

The negroni is, to my mind, just about as close as it’s possible to get to the perfect cocktail. It’s deep, bitter, and complex, showing off the best of the gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari that goes into it. And with just three main ingredients used in equal parts, it’s easy to make even with barely any equipment.

But while there are millions of negroni variations, and every cocktail bar you visit seems to have its own take on this classic, I rarely find a variation which bests the original. However, there is one variation which even a purist like me has found space in my heart for, and it’s a dark and moody take called a black negroni.

How to make a black negroni

Confusingly, you’ll find a number of different variations all referred to as a black negroni, including some made with cold brew coffee or alpine liqueur. But the version which I love is a simple substation of the amaro Averna in place of the sweet vermouth:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Averna

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube. Add a dash of chocolate bitters and garnish with a orange twist.

What makes this variation interesting to me is that you might assume you should sub the Averna for the Campari, as both are Italian amaros. But Campari is much more bitter than Averna, which has a spicy, almost chocolatey flavor. So you want to keep the bitterness of the Campari and use the Averna in place of the sweetner instead — in this case, the sweet vermouth.

The black negroni comes out even darker in appearance and flavor than the classic, and it has a spicy, mole-esque vibe that I love. If you can find some Avenera, then try it out — Averna isn’t expensive but it can be difficult to find, so keep an eye out in liquor stores or supermarkets with specialty drinks sections.

Georgina Torbet
Georgina Torbet is a cocktail enthusiast based in Berlin, with an ever-growing gin collection and a love for trying out new…
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