Thursday, March 25, 2021

BevFluence Cocktail Book Program 2021 - Negroni: More than 30 Classic and Modern Recipes for Italy's Iconic Cocktail

This spring, BevFluence has partnered with Ryland Peters & Small and CICO Books to review several Cocktail books starting with Negroni, More than 30 classic and modern recipes for Italy's iconic cocktail ($12) by David T. Smith and  Keli Rivers. My bar setup was void of each of the three central ingredients (Campari, gin, and vermouth) so I decided to go local as much as possible - obviously excluding the Campari. This Italian liqueur was created by Gaspare Campari in 1860 as a bitter aperitif made from various herbs, fruits, and spices. 

For the gin, I went with the excellent Joseph A. Magnus & Co Vigilant District Dry Gin ($35) that I first sampled at their Washington, D.C. distillery. This is a London-style dry gin that should be a decent alternative to the English gins. For vermouth, I learned that Mt. Defiance Distillery in Loudoun County Virginia produces a Sweet Vermouth ($19, 350ml).  This fortified wine starts at the Mt. Defiance Apple Brandy that is flavored with herbs and spices and blended with barrel-aged brandy, Vidal Blanc wine, local honey, and caramel syrup. 

The perfect place to start is with The Classic, just equal parts of all three ingredients. In this scenario, the bitter orange of the Campari takes center stage with the vermouth providing a slight balance with sweet flavors.  The gin was a little lost with this palate. 

I favored another recipe called Run Free & Naked which puts The Classic ingredients into an ice-filled and salt-rimmed pint glass. Then fill the remaining glass with sparkling hard cider. I choose the Corcoran Vineyards and Cidery PoPo Peach. This was an eye-opener and will be a summer favorite. 

The next recipe came from the Experimental Negroni section and is the Oaxacan which replaces the gin with mezcal in the Classic recipe. I had the Mezcal El Silencio Espadín available and this substitution seemed to elevate the Campari even more while also providing a smokey trail. Good for a change of pace.

Check back as we will up updating this post with more cocktail experiences as we leaf through the book. Cheers. 

Another non-traditional Negroni we enjoyed was the Kingston Negroni which is the Classic above with the gin replaced with rum. We used the Pilar Key West Rum and this combination provides a little smoothness and toastiness.

The Stout & Steadfast piqued our interest - as well as a seminar discussion - so we created this cocktail using equal parts from the Classic recipe - using Aviation American Gin.  The recipe calls for filling the remaining half-pint class with Guiness, but I used the Center of the Universe Donny Coffee Brown Ale. The Campari bitters start off the race, but the coffee and dry malt catch up and lead to a smooth relaxing finish. Actually liked the cocktail more than the beer on its own. 

We were waiting for warmer weather to make the Negroni Float, but couldn't wait. The recipe calls for smaller amounts of the Classic added with ice to a large glass. Then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and slowly fill with cola or as in our case, Kutztown Sarsaparilla. Top with whipped cream and let the cola and ice cream integrate into the cocktail, then sip with a straw. The Negroni takes a back seat and I love our choice of Sarsaparilla which blends in nicely with the Campari. A worthy dessert. 

No comments: