No one understands the intersection of drinking and culture quite like the Italians do. From morning to night, there’s a drink for every moment. Go ahead: Drink Italian. It’s a way of life.
Legend has it that in 1919 Italian aristocrat Count Camillo Negroni asked a bartender to strengthen his Americano cocktail by adding gin rather than soda water. Italians have been ordering the Negroni ever since.
Bartenders continue to follow Count Negroni’s example by improvising with the iconic cocktail. Creating an entirely new Negroni experience is often simple as swapping one ingredient for another.
No matter how you switch up the ingredients, be sure to keep Campari for that signature bitter edge that the Negroni is known for. Other apertivos are often milder and using them in the classic recipe would lose what makes a Negroni so distinct.
The following cocktails are delicious twists on the classic recipe. But each is still unmistakably a Negroni.
Sbagliato literally means “wrong” in Italian, but there’s nothing off about this bubbly twist on the Negroni. The recipe just swaps out gin for prosecco, giving it a light, airy flavor well-suited for a balmy afternoon. It’s the perfect entry point to the world of Campari.
The Boulevardier is the closest thing there is to an American Negroni (yes, even more than the Americano). It trades in the dry juniper notes of gin for either bourbon or rye. For whiskey lovers, it’s the ideal introduction to the classic Italian cocktail.
Technically, the Old Pal is a spin-off of the Boulevardier. It too uses whiskey in favor of gin, but the updates don’t end there. The Old Pal uses dry instead of sweet vermouth. The effect is a cocktail that’s lighter than the Boulevardier and a touch heartier than the Sbagliato.
What’s most important is that the Campari remains constant in all three of the variations above. You’re getting an authentic Negroni no matter which you stir.