Recipe Review

The Secret to a Smoother Cocktail? Sushi Rice!

published Jul 7, 2023
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Rice washed negroni in cocktail glass.
Credit: Kristina Razon

While scrolling through my explore page on Instagram (as one does when they have a free moment), I came across a super-intriguing technique: adding sushi rice to a negroni. According to Punch, stirring in a couple of tablespoons will yield a cocktail that is softer, smoother, and creamier with a richer, more rounded texture. 

I immediately showed the video to my husband, who had worked as a bartender for many years. He was so surprised by the technique that he watched the video again. Although he was skeptical, he confirmed that, in theory, it would work. I had to try it out for myself. 

How to Make a Rice-Washed Negroni

This technique couldn’t be easier. Simply add two tablespoons of sushi rice to the bottom of a mixing glass, then build your cocktail. To make a negroni, pour in equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. Fill the glass with ice and stir well. Strain the cocktail into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange peel. 

Credit: Kristina Razon

My Honest Review of a Rice-Washed Negroni

In order to give my most honest review, I performed a taste test of a regular negroni (sans rice) and a rice-washed negroni. My husband and I tried them side-by-side and we both noticed a difference. 

The negroni made with sushi rice had a softer heat. Here, adding in the rice smoothed out the rough edges and made it infinitely more sippable. In comparison, my first sip of the regular negroni had quite the bite. This was huge for me, as I’m not the biggest fan of boozy stirred cocktails. (My husband, who likes the punch of the alcohol, preferred the original.) 

Another thing is that the rice-washed negroni was more opaque in color, thanks to the starch that was released from the rice through stirring. The cocktail was still a pretty rosy red-orange color; it just didn’t look like your typical negroni. 

At the end of the day, whether you like your drinks on the boozy side or not so much, the rice-washed negroni was a great cocktail. Pull this trick out for anyone who wants an easy-to-sip stirred drink. 

If You’re Making a Rice-Washed Negroni, a Few Tips

  • Stir, stir, stir. It’s important to stir your cocktail for at least 20 seconds to properly agitate the rice and release its starch. This will result in a creamy texture. 
  • Try this trick with other stirred cocktails. Adding a tablespoon or two of sushi rice to any of your favorite stirred cocktails will soften their boozy heat while creating a richer, more rounded texture. Feel free to experiment with Old-Fashioneds and Manhattans.