The distinctive crimson hue of the Negroni remains a beacon to acolytes and new adopters alike, all drawn to the Italian drink’s three-ingredient equal-parts formula and its sophisticated, transportive allure. With relative ease, the classic combination of one part Campari, one part London dry gin and one part Italian sweet vermouth harmoniously transforms into a bittersweet, citrus-accented, botanical-driven composition that continues to be adored, and to spark countless variations.
“I prefer things that are simple, but with style: fabulous but not fussy. And the Negroni embodies that sentiment perfectly,” says Melissa Watson, a longtime Negroni evangelist who works at a South San Francisco cocktail supply shop specializing in amaro, gin and vermouth. “Three ingredients in equal parts is so simple, but the Negroni combines big, but deliciously balanced flavors with that bright red color… [It also] packs a ton of history, and even travel memories. How does all of that fit in such a simple drink?”
For Guido Martelli, general manager of an Italian American restaurant in Philadelphia, the Negroni is the ideal bittersweet cocktail. “It’s three ingredients stirred together resulting in something elegant and, frankly, quite perfect. I love the balance,” he says. “It’s impossible to grow tired of, especially thanks to all of the variations out there.”
Still, as riffs and reinterpretations abound, many in the industry remain purists about certain components of the drink. “I am one of those people that will not call a Negroni a Negroni without Campari,” says Matt Chavez, bar manager of a modern Italian restaurant in Manhattan. “Beyond its signature red hue, it [brings] the perfect level of bitterness that is expected when ordering a Negroni. There’s a certain punchy tang that accents juniper so well—to a point where I can easily spot when Campari is replaced with something else, because the balance is noticeably out of place.”
“Personally, I’ll order any Negroni variation I see out in the wild, and [I] love the growth of aperitivo bitters on the market—from new Italian imports to homegrown interpretations,” says Brad Thomas Parsons, the award-winning Brooklyn-based author who wrote a book on amaro. “But nothing captures the spirit of Italian drinking more than an iconic Negroni made with Campari.”
Of course, making even a simple, well-known cocktail can sometimes go awry (lest we forget that highly viewed video of a certain celebrity-endorsed shaken Negroni). With factors like not having a fresh bottle of vermouth on hand, or planning an event outdoors where barware isn’t easily transported, comes the risk of serving a subpar Negroni that strays from the spirit of the original drink.
But the introduction of the Campari® Negroni Ready to Serve, made with Campari, London dry gin and sweet vermouth, ensures a bar-quality Negroni anywhere, anytime, with the simple addition of ice and garnish. The elegantly designed 375ml bottle offers approximately four servings per bottle at 26 percent ABV. The centerpiece of the label, featuring Art Deco lettering, is an illustration of the dashing Count Camillo Negroni. The likeness is accompanied by the words “Since 1919,” a salute to the year the count asked bartender Fosco Scarselli at Florence’s Caffè Casoni to swap out soda water for gin in his Americano, as a nod to a recent trip to London.
“It tastes like you’re sipping on a just-stirred Negroni from your favorite bar,” says Emma Rubbins-Breen, cocktail director and bartender at a craft cocktail bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She adds, “I think the packaging and branding really takes it a step above the expected ready-to-serve cocktail. … It’s a great way to bring a high-end feel to a dinner party or as an unexpected gift for your host.”
Martelli, for one, is already envisioning packing bottles for summer trips to the beach, while Parsons—a fan of hosting relaxed aperitivo gatherings using store-bought pantry items, rounded out with fresh bread, cheese and salumi from neighborhood Italian shops—plans to keep a few in the freezer next to his chilled glasses, for an effortless welcome drink that doesn’t require any barware.
“[It] tastes like it was handed to you from a bartender across the bar top,” says Chavez, who also appreciates how the RTS takes the some of the legwork out of entertaining for a group of guests. “If a few bottles of the Campari Negroni RTS were placed next to some glassware and an ice chest during a dinner party, it would be a smash hit.”
Nothing can replace the ritual of made-to-order cocktails, but good ready-to-serve versions can make favorite drinks accessible for times when mobility and convenience are the priority, without sacrificing quality. Though the Campari Negroni Ready to Serve is, in one way, modernizing one of the most iconic cocktails in the world, it maintains the classic’s sprezzatura and near-universal appeal, which are suitable for most any situation. As Watson puts it: “A Negroni is always a good idea. Don’t wait for a special occasion: Have a Negroni, and [the moment] becomes special.”
Campari® Negroni Ready to Serve
The Campari Negroni Ready to Serve is a premium, readily crafted Negroni cocktail which blends quality ingredients of Campari, London Dry Gin and Sweet Vermouth, respecting the traditional recipe dating back to 1919. Juniper notes and hints of spiced herbal aromas unfold to a long, lingering finish of bittersweet citrus.
- Price: $24.99
- ABV: 26%