Throughout history, there’s been an incessant human temptation to mix Thing A with Thing B and see what happens. It’s how we discovered the Diet Coke–Mentos eruption, embraced the mullet (business in the front, party in the back), and were blessed with the labradoodle.
The cocktail world, too, is no stranger to the allure of a good mashup (see: the Cosmogroni and the Cosmojito). But if there were one hybrid category suited to our current moment, it would have to be the aperitivo sour. Easy to make and easier to drink, the aperitivo sour marries the best of both worlds, all crowned with a blanket of cloudlike froth.
Take, for instance, Misi’s Negroni Sour. In keeping with the simplicity of aperitivo culture—and the Italian cooking at the Brooklyn restaurant—the recipe hews quite closely to a classic Negroni base: gin, red bitter, and blanc vermouth in lieu of sweet vermouth, all in equal parts. But to bring the most out of the formula, the recipe calls for a house bitter blend for added dimension, while both orange and lemon juices bring the requisite acidity and land the drink firmly in sour territory.
In Los Angeles, Dan Sabo brings the sour treatment to the Negroni’s predecessor, the Milano-Torino. The most minimalist entry in the aperitivo canon, the two-ingredient Milano-Torino, or “Mi-To” as it’s affectionately known, is also one of the most flexible templates. Typically comprising equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth, the drink shines when personalized—as Sabo demonstrates with a base of Campari and dry vermouth, complemented by both grapefruit and lime juices and an egg white for a frothy finish.
A more contemporary entrant to the aperitivo field, the modern classic White Negroni likewise benefits from a hit of citrus and a topping of froth. In his White Negroni Sour, Orlando Franklin McCray swaps the traditional Lillet Blanc for Mattei Cap Corse Blanc quinquina, which adds spice, depth and a subtle bitterness. Lemon juice and a vegan foaming agent (in lieu of egg white) deliver the expected sour qualities. Here at Punch, we’ve also experimented with the hybrid format. In our Campari Sour, we combine the red bitter with grapefruit and lime juices and an egg white because, well, obviously.