[:en]It was the beginning of the 20th century in a Florence full of charm and nobility. A little too much as a start? Maybe yes, but when we talk about iconic cocktails and the Italian aristocrats who are proud of having given birth to them, a little pathos never goes amiss.
Who and what are we talking about? Of the Count Camillo Negroni and of his centenary creation which takes its name from him: the Negroni.
Centenary yes, why exactly in 2019 the Negroni turns a century, although it must be said that it does very, very well considering that this year it took second place in the ranking of the most loved drinks in the world (after the Old Fashioned) drawn up by Drinks International.
An achievement that smells of Italian history, because the original Negroni was born in Florence from the mind of one of the most prominent aristocrats of the time, Count Camillo Negroni, and from the hands of the barman Fosco Scarselli of the Giacosa workshop, located in via de' Tornabuoni 83.
One day the Count returned from a stay in England, which he was probably chatting about during aperitif time with friends and drinking companions in the above-mentioned shop, when he was struck by a hint of nostalgia. Nostalgia stings, not surprisingly defined by some as "rogue" (so at least we lowered the courtly tones of the narrative).
Well, what is the spirit that most characterizes England? Without a doubt the gin. Here then is Don Camillo (don't joke, the honorable treatment of many Italian aristocrats for several centuries was precisely "Don") who he used to always order the Americano, asked Fosco Scarselli to create some a slightly more "strong" version, with a splash of gin which would have increased its alcohol content while maintaining its color unchanged and adding its typical bitter and dry note. And it was love straight away. Legend has it that for some time the cocktail was referred to as "the Americano in the manner of Count Negroni", before simply taking on the latter's name, as we all know it today.
A cocktail with aristocratic origins, therefore, whose recipe was soon established
1/3 Campari bitters
mixed in a short tumbler with ice and a slice of lemon (original recipe) or orange (variation on the theme).
Cinema was born at the time of Count Negroni, so it is not surprising that his creation soon became a staple of a series of films but also of short stories and novels, making its entry into mass culture and guaranteeing immortality was thus achieved (it is said that even Ian Flaming, the "father" of James Bond, was a great admirer, but they are when made with Gordon Dry Gin, of course).
Among the many variations that this iconic cocktail has undergone over the years, the only two that are perhaps worth mentioning are the Wrong Negroni and the Negroski. The first was born in the sixties thanks to Mirko Stocchetto, historic barman who unfortunately passed away recently. In the confusion of an evening behind the counter of Bar Basso in Milan, Stocchetto grabbed a bottle of brut sparkling wine mistaking it for gin and he unintentionally created the first Negroni Sbagliato in history, sparking the enthusiasm of those present and of so many admirers in the years to come that it has made this variation almost as famous today as the original.
The Negroski instead you get it replacing gin with vodka, as you might imagine from the name variation.
And if you're wondering what Count Camillo Negroni would think of this variation, well... after all, wasn't his Negroni also a "variation" of the Americano?