Nigella Lawson’s Favorite Cocktail Is Perfect for Summer

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It’s finally, finally starting to feel like spring out there, and that means it’s almost outdoor-dining season. Or maybe we should call it Nigella Lawson season, because her new show, At My Table, features one of the most gorgeous alfresco dining setups I’ve ever seen, with a walled garden full of twinkly lights and a heavy wooden table big enough to seat 20 if they squeezed in. (OK, it’s a TV studio, but so is the White House on Scandal, and you can’t convince me Olivia Pope isn’t real.)

Summer dinner party season requires a roster of good cocktail recipes, and according to Good Housekeeping UK, Nigella’s go-to drink is a cinch for parties. In a recent Twitter Q&A, a fan asked her for her favorite cocktail, and she reported that her favorite drink is a twist on the classic Negroni called a Negroni Sbagliato.

A classic Negroni is made with equal parts Campari, red vermouth, and gin, but the “Sbagliato” version switches the gin for sparkling wine. It’s an effervescent blend of sweet and bitter that’s perfect for sipping outdoors when you’re relaxing in Italy, or anytime you just want to pretend you’re doing that (which is most times for me).

“Sbagliato” means “bungled,” and legend holds the Negroni Sbagliato was born at the legendary Bar Basso in Milan when a bartender accidentally poured Prosecco into a Negroni instead of gin, and the mistake turned out to be a fizzy delight. (Adding Champagne to things is rarely a bad idea.)

Nigella appears to make her “bungled Negronis” by the batch, suggesting that a person take one bottle of Prosecco and add 1 1/3 cups of Campari and 3/4 cup of very good red vermouth. That’d be very convenient for groups, because you could make it all at once and pour it out for guests, or even put it in a punch bowl.

Depending on personal tastes, you can vary the proportions of a Negroni Sbagliato dramatically. Nigella seems to like hers on the bitter side, with more Campari than vermouth, while other recipes call for equal parts of all three ingredients, like in a regular Negroni. Experimentation is clearly in order — good thing it’s the season for it!

Have you ever tried a Negroni Sbagliato?

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