First created for Count Camillo Negroni in 1919 at Florence’s Café Casoni, the Negroni cocktail was actually predated by the Milano-Torino, a mix of bitter, barky Campari and sweet vermouth that evolved into the Americano with the addition of soda water. Legend has it that around 1920, at the Count’s favorite Florentine bar, he requested something stronger; the soda was replaced with gin, and the Negroni cocktail was born.
True to the cocktail’s roots in adaptation, it remains a bartender’s favorite plaything today. Is there such a thing as a Negroni without gin? You bet. Replace it with prosecco for a Negroni Sbagliato, bourbon for a Boulevardier, or tequila or mezcal for a diminutive, agave-based TiNegroni. Looking for a Campari substitute? Taste your way through a few of the other bitter, red aperitivos, including Aperol or Cappelletti, or select a more subdued color palette with an herbal, alpine amaro.
As for the fortified wine component, a sweet Italian variety is traditional, but the best vermouth for your Negroni is entirely up to you. (We like a dry, French vermouth like Dolin in the light and refreshing Contessa.) Want your Negroni without vermouth? Lillet or sherry can be lovely, too.
Check out our traditional Negroni drink recipe below, along with 12 genius riffs on the classic.
This classic cocktail couldn’t be simpler—it’s simply even parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Get the recipe for Negroni » Matt Taylor-Gross
Large-Batch Negroni Sbagliato
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Count Mast Negroni
In this negroni riff, Jägermeister replaces classic Campari for a more herbaceous, licorice-scented profile. The substitute gives the drink more sweetness and body, which is rounded out by the oils of the lemon peel garnish. Get the recipe for Count Mast Negroni cocktail » Dan Q. Dao
Beth Dixon, bartender at Pasture in Richmond, Virginia, describes this fun cocktail as the lovechild of a Mai Tai and a Negroni. Get the recipe for Bermuda Hundred » Matt Taylor-Gross
Half-Sized Negroni Cocktail (TiNegroni)
Broken Negroni (Negroni Sbagliato)
The 19th-century Italian cocktail the Milano-Torino consisted of bitter Campari and Martini sweet vermouth. It is said that American travelers preferred their apéritifs with soda water, so the Milano-Torino with soda became known as the Americano. Get the recipe for Americano » Ingalls Photography
The Contessa, a modern creation of John Gertsen, a bartender at Boston's Drink, replaces two of the Negroni's three ingredients: Campari is swapped for the lighter and more orangey Aperol and dry vermouth substitutes for sweet. It's more like the Negroni's third cousin than a direct descendant. Get the recipe for Contessa » Ingalls Photography
Light, orangey Lillet Blanc and fresh lemon juice brighten a springlike twist on the Negroni. Tarragon and tart, hibiscus-based Burlesque Bitters from Bittermens add floral, herbaceous notes. Get the recipe for Pink Negroni » Zoe Schaeffer
Replacing the Negroni's traditional sweet vermouth with Lillet and the Campari with Braulio, an herbal Italian amaro, gives this twist on the classic cocktail a rich amber hue and a pleasingly astringent edge. Get the recipe for Amber Negroni » Zoe Schaeffer