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Help fix my Negroni

  • j

Having discovered the beauty of the Negroni over the last year, I decided to attempt to make one at home.
My proportions:
1 part Citadelle Gin
1 part Luxardo Bitter (a little cheaper than Campari and I have seen plenty of recommendations that this makes a worthy substitute)
1 part Vya Sweet Vermouth
Orange peel

The result was *good* but didn't have the bracing, but wonderfully balanced, bitterness of the Negronis that I've loved elsewhere. Any thoughts on changing my proportions? I'm thinking about dialing back the Vermouth but would that throw things out of balance?


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  1. If it doesn't have Campari, it isn't a Negroni. Sure it's in the same family, but... Also I feel Vya doesn't work well in many cocktails.

    1. FWIW, I use Plymouth gin, Campari, and Caprano Antiqua Formula . . . equal parts.

      1. Campari really makes the negroni. You can play around with the other ingredients, but the drink is defined by Campari.

        1. I concur. I like Luxardo Bitter (and Gran Classico too), but I use it about 10% as much as I do Campari, despite Campari being 35% more expensive. And I go through a lot of Campari

          Also, Punt e Mes makes a spectacular Negroni. I've had trouble integrating Vya dry, but had no trouble with the sweet version. That said, I find the Negroni to be one of the most forgiving cocktails. I like it in just about any ratio, with just about any brands, regular or perfect.

          I suggest you taste each ingredient neat to form your opinion of it. You will have to mentally factor in its flavor in the cocktail (dilution, temperature, other ingredients), but it will really help you pinpoint what you aren't happy with.
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          3 Replies
          1. re: EvergreenDan

            Aperol in place of the Campari also makes a nice Negroni-type drink.

            1. re: Alcachofa

              Do you find Aperol to be less bitter, a bit sweeter than Campari? I think that is what I taste. We drink Campari as our main summer drink and frequently during other warmer months. Campari now owns and makes Aperol. I would agree that a Negroni requires Campari. I have had a quasi Negroni with a bit of St. Germain which was delightful.

              1. re: Bacchus101

                Yes, I do find the Aperol a little less bitter in there. But I like the classic Negroni also. I did not realize Campari had purchased them!

                I have put a dash of St Germain in a classic Negroni also. Not bad.

                Re: Summer. I sometimes leave the Campari in the fridge, not because it needs to be in there, but to minimize immediate dilution when I made a Campari and soda.

          2. One other thing I'd suggest is to use a London Dry gin. I typically use Plymouth, but a Negroni is a pretty demanding drink for gin and it needs something strong to stand up to the Campari. In general, I like things a bit less juniper heavy, but in a Negroni, a juniper-heavy London Dry works wonderfully. I use Beefeater.

            I haven't tried Citadelle, but from what I've heard, it's a French gin that aims for something different than the classic London Dry, with dialed back juniper and a number of other, sweeter botanicals (notably coriander) taking the lead.

            For me, equal parts Campari, Beefeater, and Dolin sweet vermouth with a big orange twist on the rocks is the way I make a Negroni.

            3 Replies
            1. re: The Big Crunch

              Have you tried it with an Old Tom or Genever?

              1. re: ncyankee101

                yeah, young genever works really well.

              2. re: The Big Crunch

                Absolutely, TBC, that was my first thought, use a less flowery gin. I would not put Citadelle in a Negroni. Beefeater or Bombay (not Sapphire).

              3. My perfect Negroni consists of equal parts Tanqueray Rangpur gin, I like the limeyness of it, Campari or Aperol and Punt es Mes. Once while buying ingedients in Italy the man helping me realized what I was making, took away my sweet vermouth and gave me the Punt es Mes, telling me that was the ONLY way to make a Negroni!
                Stir gently with ice, starin into a chilled glass and toss in a nice curl of orange rind. If it really isn't bitter enough, add a shake of Blood Orange bitters.

                1. Last night I tried:

                  1 oz gin (Beefeater)
                  1 oz Campari
                  1 oz Punt e Mes (my usual sweet)
                  .25+ oz lime juice
                  orange peel (expressed and dropped)

                  The bitterness and acidity from the lime really balanced this. I like this as much as I do a Perfect Negroni.

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                  23 Replies
                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    Interesting idea! As one of the things I love about the Negroni is the fact that it's clear, I'm not about to add lime juice. But I found this to be intriguing, so I experimented last night with acid phosphate as a souring agent. I guess white or red wine vinegar might also work, but that doesn't sound especially appealing. I prepared two Negronis, as follows:

                    1oz Bombay (red cap)
                    1oz Campari
                    1oz Vya sweet
                    2d Angostura orange

                    45 second stir, strain, and I dosed one of them with 1/8oz of acid phosphate.

                    The acid version was, naturally, distinctly sour, while the normal version felt much smoother and silkier. Both were good drinks, and neither struck me as more or less balanced than the other.

                    While extremely cold I favored the acid-free version, but as the drinks warmed up a bit I started enjoying the sour one a bit more; the sourness gave the drink a slightly refreshing tone even when it wasn't as cold.

                    Most interestingly, I found that the sour version seemed much bitterer than the normal version, especially when the drinks were still ice cold.

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                      Interesting; I need to try this idea. An 1/8 oz (3/4 tsp) is rather a lot of Acid Phosphate. My lime variant was distinctly sweet -- not tart at all -- just less so than normal. The idea was to achieve the moderated sweetness of a Perfect Negroni, without losing all that wonderful Punt e Mes flavor.

                      Your comment about sour interacting with bitter is interesting too. I find that sourness moderates bitter, but apparently not everyone feels that way. For example, I think a Negroni is much more challenging that, say, gin, Campari, and lime. Whether the bitterness of the lime in my Negroni variant was important, I don't know.

                      BTW, if you haven't had a Gin-Cin-Cyn (or Cin-Cyn -- not clear what the authentic name is) recently, try one. It really is wonderful. Anyone know the true origin?

                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        It's possible that different acids interact differently with the bitter. Also, lime juice does have some sugar in it, as well as lime aromatics. I guess we'd have to try with some pure citric acid to see what happens. Could be interesting :-)

                        Is Gin-Cin-Cyn == 1:1:1 Gin:Cynar:Vermouth? (I just Googled.) Why is it called "Cin"?

                        How about Gin-Cam-Cyn ? That sounds rather bold!

                        Edit: Cinzano! Duh.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          Yeah ... but I usually use Punt e Mes, even if it does mess up the wonderful name. And for anyone else wondering (since I'm sure DSP knows), Cynar is pronounced CHEE-naar. And Cinzano is CHIN-zaano.

                          I do have some Citric Acid, so I could do a multi-way Negroni-off.

                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                            Cool, do one with white vinegar, too! Do you have Lactart as well?

                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                              No, no Lactart, although who knows. The Boston Shaker is walking distance from my house. ;) I wonder what proportion of the US population can walk to a store that sells Lactart? 1%?

                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                Depends on how far people like to walk :-)

                              2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                First, oops, I have Lactart, not Acid Phosphate, although I've tasted AP at The Boston Shaker.

                                I made 4 Negroni (Negronis?), each starting with a base of:
                                1/2 oz gin (Beefeater)
                                1/2 oz Campari
                                1/2 oz Punt e Mes

                                #1 received 1/2 dry vermouth (Boissiere)
                                #2 received 1/4 oz lime juice
                                #3 received 3 small dashes of Lactart
                                #4 received 1 pinch citric acid.

                                My wife preferred #1, then #2.

                                I liked them all. :
                                #1 was the sweetest. Dry vermouth is just not very acidic. I still liked it though.
                                #2 was the furthest from a classic Negroni. The lime flavor was quite apparent, and the color was murky. I see DSP's point. The flavor was pleasant, but it brings the drink into the already over-populated sour(ish) family.
                                #3 Lactart, at least in this dose, was fairly mild in terms of modifying the flavor. It was noticeably less sweet than a classic Negroni.
                                #4. Probably my least favorite. It has some citrus-like flavor along with the moderated sweetness. Still, I liked it.

                                #1 and #2 were less potent. To make things fair, I probably should have added a little water to #3 and #4.

                                My takeaway is that, for me, it is more important to moderate the sweetness of a classic Negroni than to worry about the affects on the flavor.

                                Now if Carpano would only make a dry version of Punt e Mes....

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                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                  I just love how dedicated some of us are. Kudos and Cudos.

                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                    Great writeup! What do you usually use the Lactart for? After reading Darcy O'Neil's book I was much more interested in the Phosphate than the Lactart -- just seemed way more flexible.

                                    One thing I use it for, by the way, in the nonalcoholic realm: SodaStream makes a "naturally sweetened" version of its cola, which is sweetened with cane sugar. It's decent, but too sweet. With the addition of 2 dashes of mole bitters and 1/8 oz of acid phosphate (per ounce of syrup), it becomes really nice. For that alone it was a worthwhile purchase for me, as I love cola but abhor high fructose corn syrup.

                                    As for dry Punt e Mes, I'll take it, and raise you dry Campari :-)

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      I bought the lactart to take the sweetness out of drinks that, in the mixing glass, come out too sweet. I don't use it often, but it has an agreeable flavor.

                                      Still sweet + sour does not taste the same as dry (neither sweet nor sour). I love a Martini, and would like to find other stellar drinks in this family but absent making the ingredients, I'm not sure it's possible.

                              3. re: davis_sq_pro

                                So I've now tried the Gin-Cam-Cyn (needs a better name). Thrice. It's an excellent combination. Less sweet than a normal Negroni (I think Cynar has slightly less sugar than vermouth), with a bit more depth of flavor. Give it a shot.

                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                  Will do. Had Gin, Campari, Cocci Americano, lemon, and orange (lemon plus orange combined being a bit more than each of the others). Light and nice.

                                  I need to try your horrendously-named idea, although I bet I'm going to want some acid of some sort in there.

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                    As I feared, I found it too sweet, even with 3:2:2. Adding 2 pts dry vermouth made for a nice drink. I found the Campari to dominate the Cynar. I think I'd dry 3:2:1:1 next.

                                    Do you use Punt e Mes in your Negroni-family drinks? It raises the bar. That stuff is nectar of the devils.

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                                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                                      I like Punt e Mes a lot, but at the moment I'm working on a bottle of Vya. (I only open one of each kind of aromatized wine at a time so as not to fill my fridge with half-consumed bottles.) My favorite is the Vergano Americano Chinato. Not a vermouth in the strict sense, nor as bitter as Punt e Mes, but just insanely good in my humble opinion.

                                      Will Lillet sub in well for the blanc in Eeyore's Requium? Or, if that won't work, maybe cream sherry? (Too much of a stretch? I have a bottle of that open as well at the moment that I've been using to very good effect in a number of cocktails.)

                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                        I just made Eeyore with all dry vermouth and liked it a lot. I think you could use just about any aromatized wine,really.

                                        I liked the bottle I bought of Vergano Americano at Dave's Pasta in ... wait for it ... Davis Square. It was quite expensive, however, and as I recall has a strong strawberry or raspberry aspect.

                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          To my palate the berry notes in the Americano read as more cherrylike. (Fresh, bright cherry, like a Rainier, not like a Bing, so maybe raspberry is a good descriptor.) I think it's a welcome flavor in most drinks in which I'd use sweet vermouth.

                                          It is very expensive, but I don't mind since in my house sweet wines last a long, long time -- on the order of months. My wife and most of our friends aren't the types to go for stirred cocktails, so I tend to make a lot of sours and the wines only get used when I make myself a Manhattan or Vieux Carre or something similar.

                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                            Amen to the Vergano Americano, the most delicious chinato I've ever had. And thanks to that cherrylike character I find it lovely with the bourbon in the negroni's darker relative, the boulevardier.

                                    2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      DSP, have you tried Eeyore's Requiem? Sort of the same idea, but more Campari-focused. If you lack the blanc vermouth, I wouldn't hesitate to try it with dry as I found it a touch sweet.

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                              4. re: EvergreenDan

                                +1 on the lime.
                                My Negroni of the moment is:
                                1oz. Blue Coat gin
                                1oz. Campari
                                1oz. Carpano Antica
                                Squeezed thin wedge of lime.

                                I may never go back.

                                Citrus selection aside, I also find that I like the Carpano Antica version MUCH better than those I've made with Dolin vermouth. I guess I just don't like the Dolin as much for this drink. FWIW, the Carpano to me tastes like a nicer version of Noilly Pratt.
                                I can't comment on Vya, but it's on my list. We've got six different vermouths in house at the moment, so there's a wait list :)

                                1. re: splatgirl

                                  If you like bitter, Punt e Mes is fantastic in this. But then I think its fantastic in just about everything.

                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                    I've tried using Punt e Mes, but I think it just makes it too bitter. I know it's a matter of personal taste, but I think it just pushes the bitter too far and results in an unbalanced and unappealing drink.