Skip to main content

Why the (Endlessly Variable) Negroni Should be Your Go-To Cocktail

Negroni Cocktail
Wikimedia Commons

The Negroni is the perfect cocktail, with its deceptively simple formula creates a perfect harmony of warming flavors, with piney aromatics from Juniper-forward gin and a bitter Campari backbone tempered by the spiced sweetness of vermouth. Sophisticated enough for a soirée and forgiving enough to splash into your coffee cup without measuring, this four-ingredient aperitif is one of the simplest cocktails to make, and packs everything you need to make it through this year.



  • 1 oz. Gin
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • Orange peel, for garnish


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass or over fresh ice in a double old fashioned glass
  3. Express orange oil over drink, then drop peel into glass

Drunk History

Like all classic cocktails, the true history of the Negroni is a source of contention amongst historians and bartenders, but both popular versions make for good fireside reading.

One story is that the cocktail was invented by Italian Count Camillo Negroni in Florence in 1919. The Count was a swashbuckling figure (who might not actually have been a count at all) who spent years traveling the American West wrangling cattle, gambling, and, we assume, drinking his fair share of American whiskey. When he returned to Italy, his taste for strong spirits clashed with the European preference for mild aperitifs, and he asked his local bartender to mix his favorite cocktail, the Americano, with gin instead of the usual soda water.

It’s a fun story, but the Negronis don’t have a Count Camillo Negroni on their family tree. They do, however, have General Pascal Olivier de Negroni de Cardi, a verifiable nobleman with an equally badass backstory. He joined the military at 18, and was decorated for his gallantry in the Franco-Prussian War, where he spent months as a prisoner of the enemy. Nobody needed a drink more than this guy, and he is said to have invented the Negroni at the officer’s club while serving in Dakar, Senegal, long before Count Camillo ever set sail.

There are holes in this story, too (Campari wasn’t invented until half-way through his service in Senegal), but regardless of which Count you support, the Negroni’s status as a classic is unassailable.

How to Hack Your Negroni

One of the things that has kept the Negroni in bartenders’ arsenals for more than a century is how easy it is to riff on. You can switch up your base spirit for a totally different cocktail–try bourbon for a Boulevardier or mezcal for a Rosita. Campari too bitter? Try subbing Aperol instead. And there are enough sweet vermouths on the market that it’ll be another season before you’ve finished trying them all.

If you feel like getting fancy, you can infuse your Negroni with other flavors. Try soaking coffee or cocoa nibs in your Campari overnight for a perfect sip, maybe some rosemary in your gin, or toss a bag of your favorite tea in your cocktail while you stir. You can bottle up your concoction and give it as a gift, or become the life of the party when you show up with Negronis instead of wine. But if there’s one trick you should absolutely try to elevate any Negroni from good to great, it’s this: add a pinch of salt.

Editors' Recommendations

Ryan Polhemus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Polhemus is a freelance drinker with a writing problem. He believes firmly in the power of short stories, long hikes…
6 easy camping cocktails to shake your post-hike thirst
Bring all these ingredients to quench your thirst in the wild
Outdoorsman's Hot Toddy

So you're camped out in your best tent for too long? Or wearily panting atop the summit of a fourteener? Perfect! Time for some easy cocktails to make everything better. Yes, that's right, when you've got the 4-1-1 behind these easy-to-make, tasty adult libations, you can enjoy a fine drink on a mountain, at the campsite, or when you're home and don't feel like cutting lemon twists or adding sugar to the rim of your cocktail glass.

The secret to making great camp cocktails is the same trick to achieving military victory: Keep it simple. There's no camp-friendly version of the Long Island iced tea, but that doesn't mean you have to stick with cheap whiskey when roughing it.

Read more
Secrets revealed: Easy ways to elevate your cocktail game from a pro mixologist
How to improve your home mixology game
grasshopper cocktail

Making a top-notch cocktail is not implied. Even if you're working with a great drink recipe or all the necessary ingredients, you still have to execute. Fortunately, we know some people in the trade who have been turning out incredible cocktails for years.

That's certainly the case with Mike Milligan. He's the lead barkeep at Four Seasons in Oahu. From twists on classic cocktails to nailing a good egg white drink, he's the man for the job.

Read more
Upgrade your next barbecue with elk, the healthy red meat you should be eating
First Light Farms is raising high-quality pasture-raised elk deliverable to your front door.
cooked elk with cup

First Light Farms elk backstrap. Marilynne Bell / First Light Farms

If you're looking for a red meat alternative to beef that's delicious and packed with nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, protein-packed elk might be the answer. A great place to get pasture-raised elk delivered is First Light Farms. This New Zealand-based company raises 100% grass-fed wagyu, venison, and, most recently, elk, all deliverable to your front door. First Light Farms sent us several of their items to try, and we interviewed them to learn all about this must-try red meat.

Read more