From uncertain origins to a hundred years of experimentation, the Negroni has contributed more than its fair share to the cocktail world, and the Mezcal Negroni is one of our favorites.
Few cocktails have impacted the drinking world in the same way as the Negroni. Bitter, rich, savory, and elegantly simple, the Negroni has inspired innovation across the globe since its inception. As a result, today, there are nearly countless variations on the classic cocktail, each bringing a new element to the bargoer’s senses. However, one interpretation of the Negroni stands out as one of the most ordered and most enjoyed amongst its many contemporaries; the Mezcal Negroni.
The History of the Negroni
Like so many of our favorite cocktails, the exact birth of the Negroni is not explicitly known. However, most cocktail scholars point to one story, which is the most likely origin of the cocktail. In 1919 at a bar called Caffè Casoni in Florence, Italy, the bartender Fosco Scarselli created the drink at the request of Pascal Olivier Count de Negroni. The story tells that Count Negroni wanted the soda water in his Americano substituted with Gin; Scarselli complied while also adding orange garnish instead of lemon, and thus the Negroni was born. It was a perfect 3 part cocktail made from Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari. (The Americano cockatil is Vermouth, Campari, and Soda Water.) Later, the Negroni family created a distillery (which is still open to this day!) and distributed a ready-made version of the drink called the Antico Negroni 1919.
Variations of the Negroni
The Negroni’s simplicity has lent it to constant experimentation; this has resulted in a massive number of variations to spring up over the years, with some of the most popular being:
The Boulevardier — This is a sweeter and warmer take on the Negroni with rye whiskey instead of Gin.
The Cardinale — This variation is dryer and spicier by substituting sweet vermouth for dry and Campari for Contratto.
The Ol’ Pal — This cocktail was invented in the prohibition era 1920s and substitutes rye whiskey for gin and dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth.
Using Tonic Water instead of Campari or other bitter liqueur. Yes, the idea of swapping the primary spirit was never questioned in the Negroni, but the new era of tonic water and mixers means you can swap out the bitter component too. We recognize there are many options, but the best bar none for this cocktail is Top Note Tonic's Gentiana. It is made with the same bitters as Campari, and therefore makes a suitable substitute. But more importantly, the tonic water can help create a more mild (in alcohol) drink, and therefore lend itself to drinking as a pre-dinner or afternoon cocktail.
The Mezcal Negroni
One of our favorite takes is the Mezcal Negroni. It is made by, as the name suggests, substituting the Gin for Mezcal; doing so creates an outstanding balance from the smokiness of the Mezcal complementing the bitterness of the Campari and the Sweetness of the Vermouth; it also makes the cocktail more palatable for general bargoers because it is less abrasive than the standard Negroni.
Mezcal Negroni Recipe:
1 oz. Mezcal (we recommend Del Maguey Vida)
1 oz. Campari or 1.5 oz Top Note Gentiana Tonic
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth (We recommend Cocchi Storico)
1 Orange Twist for Garnish
Add Mezcal, Campari or Top Note, and Vermouth to a mixing glass with ice.
Stir well (this may take some time)
Strain into a glass with a single, large ice cube.
Add orange twist.
The Mezcal Negroni is a refreshing take on a classic cocktail, but some may find the taste to be a bit harsh, if that is the case we recommend adding a dash of our Top Note Tonic Club Soda; this adds a refreshing spritz to your cocktail while still maintaining the pronounced flavors. If you want to browse some of our top quality artisan mixers for your at home bar you can view our entire product catalog here.