Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Gin Cocktails

Black Negroni

Black Negroni cocktail with flamed orange wheel
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

We’ve seen all kinds of Negroni variations, but the Black Negroni might just be the most dramatic take on the classic three-parts cocktail. Bartenders have delighted in mixing shockingly dark cocktails for years, and now, thanks to a wave of nearly-noir spirits, they no longer have to rely on harmful ingredients like black charcoal, which has been linked to various health risks.

It was only a matter of time before distillers embraced the dark side: Pink gins had a moment last year, and the “Goth food” trend has taken off in the food world, giving us black burger buns and inky ice cream. Now, distillers are painting spirits black—or often more muted shades on the spectrum like faded charcoal and garnet—with natural ingredients like cocoa nibs, black carrot root, and butterfly pea powder. 

The star of this cocktail is a New Zealand import, Scapegrace Black gin, which made its debut stateside in September 2021. Butterfly pea powder imparts a deep blackberry hue, which transforms into a light lavender shade with the addition of tonic water or citrus. It’s not all gimmicks, though: In addition to juniper and butterfly pea powder, which are sourced from Southeast Asia, the gin features botanicals including local sweet potato, aronia berries, pineapple, and saffron. 

This recipe comes from Justin Carpena of Tamborim Bar & Grill, a Brazilian restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey. He relies on the classic Negroni equal-parts format, but employs a few key variations: Using Scapegrace instead of a traditional colorless gin and the alpine liqueur Bitter Truth EXR in lieu of Campari enhances the cocktail’s dark hue and adds extra herbaceousness. Carpena also splits the typical sweet vermouth with the alpine liqueur Dolin Génépy le Chamois, then steeps the mixture with mango pineapple chili black tea leaves for an even darker color and enhanced herbaceousness. Lastly, he amps up the drama with a torched orange wheel garnish.

One sip and you might just be tempted to join the dark side.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Scapegrace black gin

  • 1 ounce Bitter Truth EXR liqueur

  • 1 ounce Antica Killer Rio* 

  • 2 dashes grapefruit bitters

  • Garnish: torched dehydrated orange wheel

Steps

  1. Add the gin, liqueur, and Antica Killer Rio mixture* into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube.

  3. Top with two dashes grapefruit bitters.

  4. Garnish with a torched dehydrated orange wheel.

*Antica Killer Rio: Combine 3 parts Cinzano Rosso vermouth with 4 parts Dolin Génépy le Chamois liqueur. Steep with mango pineapple chili black tea leaves for 18 hours at room temperature. Strain and bottle.