I first learned to love the Negroni from my grandmother, Marge. She spent half the year in Florida and one year when we visited her about about a decade ago, the bartender knew this was her drink and began making one for her. I'll have what she's having, was my response. That very moment marks the time I put down all the Sex in the City Cosmopolitans I'd been drinking: there was a new cocktail in town.
What Is a Negroni?
The Negroni is a perfect combination of dry gin, sweet vermouth and bitter Campari — usually in equal parts.
Now if you've never tried a Negroni, they are definitely not for everyone. They veer much more towards bitter and aromatic than sweet, but I find there's nothing more refreshing in the summer (or, let's be honest, in the spring, fall or winter as well).
This year in particular, I've been seeking out cocktails that are like the Negroni — but a little different. We enjoy making cocktails at home and a close friend owns a bar here in town, so it's always nice to talk with other bartenders and cocktail lovers about different ways to make a familiar and beloved drink.
Here are five recipes I've found to be very similar to the Negroni, yet different enough to entice you to try something new. For those of you who are ardent admirers, perhaps one of these will enter into your summer cocktail line-up?
5 Fresh Cocktails for Negroni-Lovers
This is my second go-to cocktail when I want to try something other than a Negroni. It's lighter as the gin is replaced with a big glug of soda water. Truly the perfect summer apéritif.
Think of the Boulevardier as the Negroni's older brother — darker and a little edgier, perhaps. The two drinks are very similar. The main difference is that the Boulevardier boasts bourbon instead of the more traditional gin used in a Negroni. I tend to order these much more in the fall or winter.
This is a broad category here rather than a specific recipe, but Cappelletti is an Italian liquor very similar to Campari so it makes a great stand-in when you'd like to try something new. I find the flavor to be a bit sweeter, so Campari is my preference but we have both on hand and like to experiment with each. Cappelletti is relatively new to me, so I'm still experimenting with it at home (do you have favorite ways to use it?).
This combination of sparkling wine, a splash of Aperol and club soda couldn't be more refreshing. Aperol is similar in flavor to Campari, but has less alcohol and a more mellow flavor (not as bitter). Combine that with the soda water and sparkling wine, and you've got a patio-worthy cocktail to linger over this summer.
Cynar is a super herbal, earthy Italian liquor. It has all the good bitterness of Campari without much of the sweet edge. I like to drink it in club soda on hot days, but this cocktail boozes it up a bit with a good bit of bourbon. Cheers.
(Image credits: martiapunts/Shutterstock; Maureen Petrosky; Megan Gordon)