The Negroni is not a great candidate for frozen incarnation—at least not on paper. When we imagine a frozen drink materializing at our side on a hot summer day, it likely arrives in the form of a Margarita, Piña Colada or Daiquiri (or a Miami Vice, if you’re feeling extra). What these drinks all have in common is the inclusion of juice or fruit—whether it’s citrus, pineapple or strawberries.
The Negroni is a stirred drink built of 100 percent booze—it’s taboo to shake it, let alone freeze it. But during the Negroni’s march to ubiquity, it became a donut, a flavor of lip balm, ice cream, even pizza; it was dispensed from a fountain, frappéd, blended and turned into a popsicle. In the summer of 2016, the frozen Negroni seemed to dig in, finding friends in high and low places, and even earning “drink of summer” status. It eventually settled down and settled in alongside other popular variations on the drink, like the more buttoned-up White Negroni.
But as our thirst for all things red and bitter marched on, other drinks in the aperitivo canon vied for their turn in the spotlight, and they too have eventually found their way to the blender. By 2018, the frozen Aperol Spritz, another drink that, in its classic form, doesn’t exactly scream “freeze me,” seemed to edge out both frosé and the Negroni as aperitivo’s leading blender drink. It’s now served at craft cocktail bars like D.C.’s Columbia Room, upscale pizza joints like Mentone in Northern California and... The Cheesecake Factory. But the spritz, ham that it may be, might soon have to share the stage. In a summer like this one, where the blue drink has never felt more relevant, the oddball Angelo Azzurro may just have the edge.