The Italian count Camillo Negroni was on to something when in 1919 he asked his barkeep for a stronger version of his usual Americano cocktail. The resulting drink—a bracingly bitter, entrancing combination of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth—became a near-instant hit. In the decades since, bars and restaurants have set out to re-create the seemingly simple aperitivo, and in our September/October 2011 issue we highlight five spots around the U.S. that are serving topnotch versions of the Italian classic (and some with their own modern twists). Here are 10 more spots that could count the count among their most adoring fans—and be sure to check the Sept/Oct issue for our five other picks.
What’s the best warm-up to contemporary Italian comfort food? A Negroni, of course! And in San Francisco’s Mission district, Beretta bartenders do it just right with an equal mix of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth stirred and served up in a frosty cocktail glass.
1199 Valencia St., San Francisco; 415-695-1199; berettasf.com
Bourbon & Branch
Pre-Prohibition cocktails take center stage at this cocktail den in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, and their Negroni—equal parts of Plymouth gin, Vya sweet vermouth and Campari served up with a Dukes orange twist—is a standout. “Classically, the Negroni is served on the rocks (and sometimes with a splash of soda in Italy), but my personal take is why take something that is so elegantly perfect and muddy it by pouring it over ice?” says Bourbon and Branch general manager, Ian Scalzo, who also happens to call the Negroni his all-time favorite drink.
501 Jones St., San Francisco; 415-931-7292; bourbonandbranch.com
You can thank Clyde bar manager Jeffrey Morgethaler for bringing barrel-aged cocktails to the masses, and the first cocktail to hit the barrel? The Negroni. An even mix of Campari, Beefeater gin and Cinzano sweet vermouth, Clyde’s barrel-aged Negroni (served up) is super-smooth and rich—like a Negroni lollipop.
1014 SW Stark St., Portland, OR; 503-228-3333
Italian restaurants usually take their Negronis seriously, but Dell’anima in Manhattan’s West Village adds a few flavorful twists on the Italian classic. Their Roasted Orange Negroni Sbagliato combines Campari and muddled, roasted oranges with Carpano Antica and a bubbly lambrusco bianco. Click here for the recipe.
38 8th Ave., New York City; 212-366-6633
Order a perfectly made classic Negroni (served sans ice in a bucket glass) at Barbara Lynch’s Boston bar or request something “Negroni-like” from any of Drink’s talented bartenders, who are happy to mix up a personalized cocktail inspired by the Italian classic.
348 Congress St., Boston; 617-695-1806
Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen
Jasper’s plays up San Francisco’s passionate Negroni culture by serving the cocktail on draft. Yep, this new gastropub in San Francisco’s Serrano Hotel keeps Plymouth gin, Campari, and a blend of Punt e Mes and Cinzano sweet vermouth on draft, so the bittersweet aperitif is never more than a tap handle pull away.
401 Taylor St., San Francisco; 415-775-7979
Another Pacific Northwest bar with a stellar barrel-aged cocktail program, Liberty’s wood-softened Negroni (served up) combines Washington’s Voyager gin with Campari, and a blend of Boissiere and Dolin rouge vermouths to sublime results. And that’s just one of the dozen cocktails Liberty’s currently aging.
517 15th Ave., Seattle; 206-323-9898
Want the Negroni Dale DeGroff is having? Head to Manhattan’s Pegu Club. “Kenta Goto and Audrey Saunders relentless attention to detail and consistency make Pegu Club still my favorite Negroni,” says DeGroff.
77 W. Houston St., New York City; 212-473-7348
Nashville’s roots may be country, but the Patterson House’s Negroni program would make any Italian proud—their cocktail menu highlights seasonally rotating Negronis that all offer subtle riffs on the classic.
1711 Division St., Nashville; 615-636-7724
We’ve never met a cocktail we didn’t like at this East Village speakeasy, and their Negroni is a shining example of the bar’s cocktail craftsmanship. And if you ask the always-hospitable head barkeep Jim Meehan nicely, he might even mix you up one of his many twists on the classic.
113 St. Marks Place, New York City; 212-614-0386