At least 34 states and 145 cities are going to be running out of Campari this week. From June 2 to June 8, it's National Negroni Week. Now in its second year, Negroni Week is partially a marketing ploy – it's sponsored by Imbibe magazine and Campari (generally one of the defining components in a Negroni) – but mostly an example of how the bar tending community worldwide can pull together for a fundraising cause. ]
The Negroni has its roots in an Italian fellow named Count Negroni, who sauntered into a bar and demanded that the bartender make him an Americano (Campari, vermouth and a splash of soda) but subbing some gin for the soda. Thus a legendary cocktail was created. With its one-one-one ratio of Campari, vermouth and gin, the Negroni is one of the most beloved – and, for some, reviled – of cocktails. The central bitter, almost medicinal, note of Campari is too much for some palates, but, fear note, there are plenty of variations that offer less bold, but equally interesting quaffs.
Negroni Week is not only a national but an international effort, with bars from San Francisco to Sydney, Houston to Halifax, participating. At least $1 from every Negroni served is being donated to a charity of each bar's choice – and that's a lot of dollars, considering that, at last count, 1,223 bars had signed on.
Bars around Los Angeles are putting their best glass forward this week. From Bestia downtown to Short Order on Fairfax, bartenders are throwing down for a cause. Tonight, in particular, Harlowe, one of the city's newest bars, is announcing itself with Beefeater 24 Negroni slushies. (Does it get any better than a boozy slurpy?) So do your civic duty this week. Go out and drink a Negroni, or two and three (there will be plenty of variations on the theme). Here are a few of the myriad offerings.
3. The Edison
Downtown will be hopping during Negroni Week and, to keep pace, the Edison's bartender Andrew Smith has created the Bess St. Negroni. This is a clever riff on the standard Negroni, using Bols genever in place of the standard dry gin, as well as Aperol (sort of a tamer version of Campari), Dolin blanc vermouth and grapefruit bitters. 108 W. Second St., Los Angeles; 213-613-0000.
With his Negroni Nuovo , bartender Aaron Alvarez has turned the classic Negroni recipe on its ear by making a few simple, but well considered substitutions. Stepping in for Campari is Calisaya – an amaro but with its own bittersweet character. For the usual vermouth, Alvarez uses Cocchi Americano, a bitter aperitif that relies heavily on cinchoa bark and is said to recall the recipe for the quinine-heavy Kina Lillet. 9201 Sunset Blvd., WeHo; 310-278-2060.
Head barman Dave Kupchinsky goes the classic route with his Negroni, using Plymouth navy strength gin – whose ovenproof ABV offers a swift delivery of flavor – as well as the standard Campari. For a bit of a vermouth switch-up, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino brings orange, tobacco, and leather notes to the already distinctive cocktail. 8752 Sunset Blvd., WeHo; 424-239-1630.
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book “Gin: A Global History.” Her newest book “The 12 Bottle Bar“, co-written with David Solmonson, will be released July 29. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.