29 Negroni Variations You Can Make At Home

Campari Negroni

Seven days. Three ingredients. One simple way to give back.

That’s the motto of Negroni Week which returns for year six in June. Between June 4 and 10 more than 3,000 bars around the world will take part in what has become an annual holiday for cocktail enthusiasts. The main purpose of Negroni Week, a partnership between Imbibe Magazine and Campari, is to highlight one of the greatest cocktails ever concocted while raising money for a selection of charities.

Many bars play it safe during Negroni Week choosing to stick with the classic: one part London Dry Gin, one part Campari, and one part Sweet Vermouth, and served either on the rocks or up and topped with a twisted orange peel.

Negroni by Imbibe Magazine
Image from Imbibe Magazine

Some bars go further by playing with traditional variants like the Old PalWhite Negroni, or Boulevardier. However, every year an increasing number of bartenders go the distance by creating an in-house variant on the Negroni. Lucky for us, some of those bartenders kindly post the full recipes on the Negroni Week website.

The first iterations of this post were originally written for the defunct website UpOut which operated in five cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. During Negroni Week 2017 lists featuring Negroni variations from each of those cities were created. We thought it would be fun to go ahead and compile as many original 2017 recipes we could find into one list. Below you’ll more than two dozen variants of the Negroni created by some of the finest bars in the United States. You’re welcome.

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9 Delectable Discoveries at the 2017 Craft Spirits Carnival

Craft Spirits Carnival: Seven Stills

The Craft Spirits Carnival returns to San Francisco June 9th and 10th. This year the annual celebration of the distilled and aged will take over City View – Metreon.  As we prepare our livers for this deliciously boozy event we thought we’d dust off an article we previously wrote for the now defunct UpOut.com. This post featuring some of the highlights of Craft Spirits Carnival 2017 should give you a good sense of what to expect this year. Continue reading

10 Essential Bay Area Gins For Every Home Bar

Over at San Francisco’s cocktail-loving UpOut blog, I have a piece about essential Bay Area gins.

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Local craft distillers’ gins garner acclaim on the national stage, but we’re lucky enough to appreciate them not just as fine spirits but also as the flavorful glimpses of home. These ten Bay Area gins embody the flora and flavor of the region.

St. George Spirits :: Terroir

You can’t go wrong with any of St. George’s gins, but this one is the distillery’s “ode to the wild beauty of the Golden State” and to the forage-rich wilderness of Mount Tam, in particular. St. George Master Distiller Lance Winters recently told PUNCH “Six years after its release, the fact that it functions so well as an olfactory snapshot of the Northern California coastal landscape still moves me.” Locally sourced bay laurel, fir, coastal sage, and juniper reflect our local mountain terroir while a little toasted coriander evokes the dry, scented chaparral of the southern part of the state. Terroir is California in a bottle.

Oakland Spirits Company :: Automatic Sea Gin

If St. George Terroir is the mountain, this is the sea. Miles of California coastline harbor flavorful seaweed, but only Oakland Spirits Company (OSCO for short) seized upon the idea of adding it to gin. Sustainably foraged nori adds distinct brine to a spirit also flavored with bay leaf, sage, lemongrass, and juniper.

You might have tasted it in the Bigfoot, part of Trick Dog’s recent Mural Project menu. But don’t order it with tonic! Distiller Mike Pierce claims it’s better suited to still cocktails rather than bubbles.

Want to know more about Sea Gin? Check out “5 Secrets About OsCo Automatic Sea Gin.

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Sour Flower Power Shaddock

Playing around with my signature cocktail, the Shaddock, resulted in this Sour Flower Power Shaddock.

flowersourshaddock
Sour floral Shaddock. Equal parts St. Germain, Aperol, gin, and fresh citrus juice (usually lemon). Tonight I added a touch of acid phosphate to play up the grapefruit notes of the drink.

I wanted to taste what happened with fresh citrus plus a few drops of acid phosphate. To soar above that sour punch, I used Geranium Gin for its strong geranium distillate.

Et voila! The Sour Flower Power twist on a shaddock.

Sour Flower Power Shaddock
.75 oz Aperol
.75 oz St. Germain
.75 oz Geranium Gin
.75 oz lemon juice

(I know, I know: better to shake than stir. But the mixing glass was at hand while the shaker was entire feet away.

Top 5 cocktails at Tales of the Cocktail

Over the course of one week at Tales of the Cocktail I sampled approximately 100 cocktails/spirits. (Why so few? I was a volunteer as well as an attendee, which meant no drinking for 15 total crucial conference hours.)

Acknowledging that every attendee’s list will differ, here are the cocktails that struck me most deeply:

#1 : Dale DeGroff’s Abeja Limeña

Event: Make It, Eat It, Drink It from the Trade Commission of Peru in Miami

Abeja Limena

This take on a pisco sour highlights the torontel grape’s aromatic notes against just the right citrus zing. Aromatic pisco (brand unknown, possibly Founding Farmers but I think DeGroff said it was a single-grape pisco), honey syrup, lime, yuzu, and a red shiso garnish. My goal in the next six months (hell, I may be haunted my whole life) is to find the right pisco and the right proportions of other ingredients to recreate this memory.
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5 secrets about OsCo Automatic Sea Gin

Count yourself lucky. I almost wrote “sea-crets.”

OsCoTasting
OsCo tasting at Alchemy Bottle Shop, Oakland, CA, April 2017. The nori is in the tallest jar near the squirrel.

Sea Gin uses sustainably foraged nori and sea salt.

Up Mendocino way, OsCo’s nori hunters at Sully Farms roam Californian beaches for a certain type of seaweed. They spread their harvest on the beach to dry in the sun and salty sea air. The resulting seaweed — black, ruffled, and dense — adds distinct brine and rich vegetal notes to a spirit also flavored with bay leaf, sage, lemongrass, and “other stuff.”

OsCo’s gins and brandies are grape-based for a more unctuous mouthfeel. You can practically taste the slick seaweed on your tongue.

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Taste-testing tonics

tonics2Gin is my spirit of choice. I am therefore thrown into the proximity of many tonics. My go-to tonics are Fever-tree‘s Mediterranean or Elderflower tonics but I’m always looking for new flavors. Recently I did a taste test with some new tonics available at my local Emporium of Alcoholic Wonders (a.k.a. Berkeley’s Ledger Liquors).

Indi Strawberry tonic paired with Wollersheim’s Garden Gate Gin. The sodalike, quinine-light tonic offers strong fresh strawberry flavors (thankfully not a hint of artificial flavor), so I thought the fruit and herbs of the gin would play well with the strawberry. It was a summery combination but some heavy botanical in the combination didn’t quite suit.

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The worm in the mezcal, the ant in the gin

In a throwback to college benders and unwise drinking choices, I was recently reminded that some mezcals still include a worm in the bottle. The spirit renaissance has lifted mezcal into such rarified company that it’s a blast to read this 1999 Straight Dope column about “tequila worms” and remember the disdain in which it used to be held.

Apart from some unwise choices in college, the majority of my experience with be-wormed bottles is from Poltergeist.

Horror movies to an impressionable child are damn near documentaries, so rest assured I steered clear of mezcal worms, cemeteries in the rain, cabins in the woods, and closed-for-the-winter hotels most of my life.

Which is why it’s terribly exciting that a new generation of coming-of age drinkers might be traumatized by gin ants!
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The Shaddock

Before research taught me that a shaddock is an archaic name for grapefruit or pomelo, I disdained the cocktail name and simply called this one “My Favorite.”

shaddockowl
“Let’s have My Favorite tonight.”
  • .75 oz gin
  • .75 oz Aperol
  • .75 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz St. Germain

Shake with ice, strain, serve.

In addition to its bright citrus burst, the Shaddock offers a uniquely grapefruity flavor that is present in no single ingredient but miraculously appears when Aperol and St. Germain join forces. (The Humble Garnish pointed out that grapefruit magic with their Apparent Sour.)
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