The Italian Count Camillo Negroni appears midway through the story of the drink bearing his name. Predating him is the Milano-Torino, a mix of bitter, barky Campari and sweet vermouth. Americans visiting Italy preferred their aperitifs with soda water, so the Milano-Torino with soda became known as the Americano. Enter the Count. Around 1920, at his favorite Florentine bar, Negroni asked for something stronger, so the soda water was replaced with gin. Today the Negroni is a mixologist’s favorite play thing. The Contessa, for instance, replaces Campari with lighter, orangey Aperol and sweet vermouth with dry. It is just one example of the evolution of the Negroni, a history of substitutions, accidents, and bold strokes.
1860 Negroni’s key ingredient, Campari, is invented.
The bitter liqueur, created by the owner of a café in Novara, Italy, is an infusion of a secret blend of herbs and fruit in alcohol.
1919 Café Casoni in Florence creates a drink for Count Camillo Negroni.
To make it, stir 1 oz. each Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth in an ice-filled tumbler; garnish with an orange slice. Makes 1 cocktail. Get the recipe »
1968 Negroni variations emerge.
The Negroni Sbagliato (“bungled”) is invented at Bar Basso in Milan when the bartender accidentally puts sparkling wine into the drink instead of gin.
2014 Peak Negroni!
The drink is dehydrated, gelatinized, and set on fire, and ingredients are swapped for everything from mezcal to sherry.