It's Negroni Week. Can You Handle the Bitterness?

Written by Lauren Loftus Category: Cocktails Issue: June 2017
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Here at PHOENIX, it’s no secret we love experimental cocktails. Chile pepper-infused vodka shaken with purple mangosteen liquor and topped with palo verde essence bubbles? Yes, please. (I made that up, though I expect to see something similar on Valley mixologists’ craft cocktail lists any day now.) But while we aren’t scared to participate in “Fear Factor – Cocktail Edition,” it’s always nice to return to the classics every so often.

The Negroni is one such old faithful.

OP Negroni. Photo courtesy JS2 PR.

Made of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari (don’t forget the orange peel), this traditional aperitif is one of the most basic drinks out there. Legend has it a Count Camillo Negroni invented his namesake drink in Florence, Italy in 1919 when he asked a bartender to strengthen his drink by replacing the soda water with gin. Nearly 100 years later, we’re celebrating this classic cocktail by dedicating an entire week to it.

Negroni Week runs from June 5-11, during which participating bars donate some of the proceeds from each Negroni sold to charity. Since launching in 2013, Negroni Week has raised nearly $900,000. This year, 24 Phoenix-area restaurants and bars are participating.

If you’ve never had a Negroni before, we recommend trying one at home. They’re deceptively simple but really easy to screw up. It’s all a balancing act of finding the right ratio of each liquor. Plus, super-bitter Campari is an acquired taste. Get used to the bitterness in the safety of your own home with this recipe from Ryan Valentine, the beverage program director at Ocean Prime.

“Ocean Prime does classics really well whether that is a NY Strip steak, whole lobster, or a cocktail like the Negroni so it was a natural fit for our restaurants to get involved with Negroni Week this year,” said Ryan Valentine, Director of Beverage for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. Ocean Prime Phoenix is donating $1 from each Negroni sold this week to Inspire Artistic Minds, which provides scholarships and educational experiences to those in the culinary arts. “The charity we chose to support is Inspire Artistic Minds who is doing wonderful work to support those looking to further their education in the food and beverage industry. We as a company value the education and advancement of our staff and felt that IAM has a similar mission and goal.”

OP Negroni
1 ½ oz. Botanist Gin
¾ oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
¾ oz. Campari
Orange peel garnish

1) Combine all liquid in beaker.
2) Add ice to beaker.
3) Stir for 15-20 seconds or until cocktail is thoroughly chilled.
4) Strain into chilled glass, garnish with orange peel

Ocean Prime Phoenix
5455 E. High St.