Drink of the Week: Negronis! - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Drink of the Week: Negronis!

Story: Emma Janzen

Photo: Emma Janzen

When I joined the Imbibe team in 2015, Negroni Week was one of the magazine’s biggest events of the year, and the one I was most excited about participating in. Sure, the world has its fair share of food- and drink-themed events, but this one was different: with a charitable component at its core, and the cocktail it honors being one of the most stately, sultry beauties ever created, I knew I was about to be part of something special.

One of my favorite things about this annual fundraising initiative, which first started in 2013, has been watching bartenders around the world joyfully create new variations of the classic cocktail. I’ll never forget the way Tyler Fry put a timely spin on the framework with two types of rosé at Spilt Milk here in Chicago, or how Paulina Konja threw Stiegl’s grapefruit radler on top of the Rad Negroni, Bro for an extra-refreshing highball at Kettner Exchange in San Diego. For me, it doesn’t get more thirst-quenching than the Slushy version of the Negroni from Parson’s Chicken and Fish (also in Chicago; what can I say, it’s my home turf), or more elegant than the Negroni Bianco at Dante in New York City. Over the years I’ve come to discover there truly is a Negroni variation for everyone.

This year things are going to feel a little different with the event going completely digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of pulling up a stool to celebrate at my favorite local bar, I’ll be mixing up all my favorites at home. And since the initiative moved from June to September, my mis en place will also look a little different. There’s a chill in the air in Chicago, which has me planning for something a little more brooding—I’ll likely be queuing up Longman and Eagle’s Negroni di Aquila (an Aperol and Punt e Mes-spiked take on the Sbagliato), or maybe something with a little more funk like the Kingston Negroni made with Jamaican rum. And because agave spirits always seem to sneak into my glass, I’ll probably have a hard time choosing between the Negroni Mexicana and Joaquín Simó’s Midnight Marauder (one of the recipes I culled for my book Mezcal back in 2016). When I don’t have any Bonal or Amargo Vallet on hand for those, I usually whip up a batch of my “house” recipe: ½ oz. of mezcal, ½ oz. blanco tequila, 1 oz. of sweet vermouth, ½ oz. of Campari, ½ oz. of Cynar, and a few drops of mole bitters.

Honestly, I can’t wait for the chance to enjoy Negroni Week in a bar again next year, but in the meantime, I’m encouraged by the fact that I can give back to the bartenders who have brought so much comfort and deliciousness to my life by donating a tip for every Negroni I make at home next week. I hope you join me! Find your favorite variation to mix up at home over at Negroni Week HQ (or send us your riffs via the #imbibegram hashtag on Instagram and Twitter and we will re-post our favorites!) and remember to head to negroniweek.com to donate, donate, donate, if you can—any amount will make a difference and all donations benefit the hospitality community!

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