The Negroni—a bittersweet and bracing combination of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, stirred and served over ice—might just be the most famous example of an equal-parts cocktail.
What was once somewhat of an acquired taste beyond Italy has become a wildly popular order around the world. To quote the late bar legend Gary “Gaz” Regan, “Want to impress your date? Order a Negroni. Want to impress your boss? Order a Negroni. Want to impress the bartender? You know what to do.”
How did botanical gin, bittersweet Campari, and herbal vermouth end up in the mixing glass together? According to popular lore, the drink was created when Count Emilio Negroni asked his bartender at Bar Casoni in Florence to swap the Americano’s soda water for gin in 1919.
While the classic Negroni recipe is worth trying, the equal-parts drink has spurred countless variations, many of which are just as easy to commit to memory. The simplest way to riff on the classic is swapping gin for another spirit, à la the Mezcal Negroni or the bourbon-based Boulevardier. While most Negroni twists include Campari, the liqueur that gives the cocktail its distinctive red hue and bitterness, other bitter liqueurs and amari like Cynar can easily be substituted to create a different take on the drink that still nods to its general flavor profile.
Beyond these simple swaps, there are plenty of bittersweet stirred drinks that Negroni lovers should have in their arsenal. Here are 15 of our favorites.
Although this combination of bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth is often thought of as a Negroni variation, it also had its heyday in the early 20th century, after Harry MacElhone included a recipe in his 1927 book Barflies and Cocktails. Exchanging gin for bourbon produces a richer, more warming cocktail that Negroni fans might turn to when the temperature drops. The proportions are slightly different from the gin-based drink, as the Boulevardier calls for more bourbon than the other two ingredients.
This precursor to the Negroni is a fantastic option for those craving a more quaffable version of the classic. The combination of Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water dates to the 1860s, when Gaspare Campari started serving it at his bar in Milan as a riff on the Milano Torino (simply Campari and vermouth). It likely got its name in the 1920s, however, when American expats developed a taste for the drink.
This pre-Prohibition cocktail, which was included in the 1900 edition of Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual, combines gin and sweet vermouth with herbaceous Green Chartreuse. Though the original recipe called for equal measures of each ingredient, more contemporary versions amp up the gin and dial down the Green Chartreuse for a less cloying drink.
Although the Rosita is often referred to as a Tequila Negroni, this description oversimplifies the modern classic, which was unearthed and riffed upon by Regan in the early 1990s. The drink calls for a heavier pour of its base spirit and also splits the vermouth used into equal parts sweet and dry, creating a smoother flavor profile. A dash of Angostura bitters adds extra depth.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
While the Aperol Spritz gets more attention worldwide, its Campari cousin might just be better suited to Negroni fans who are well-acquainted with the liqueur’s distinctive bitterness. The Campari Spritz—made with its namesake liqueur, prosecco, and soda water—is a slightly higher-proof drink that’s still easy drinking and light.
This Negroni riff—which exchanges gin’s clean and botanical notes for the smoky and savory profile of mezcal—started appearing on cocktail menus in the early 2000s, when agave-focused bars like New York City’s Mayahuel popped up on the scene. The resulting drink is undeniably bold.
Created in 1967 at Bar Basso in Milan, this spritzy cousin of the Negroni exchanges the traditional gin for prosecco. Falling somewhere in between an Americano and a classic Negroni on the alcohol scale, it’s an ideal serve for aperitivo hour.
This tropical classic isn’t a Negroni riff, nor is it stirred or particularly spirit-forward. But Campari adds its distinctive flavor to the combination of blackstrap rum, pineapple juice, lime, and demerara syrup, making it a delicious option for those craving a bittersweet and citrusy drink.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
Most Negroni variations feature Campari, but this gently floral version, created by Wayne Collins at an industry trade show in Bordeaux, France, flips the script entirely, swapping the bright-red liqueur for gentian liqueur Suze and sweet vermouth for Lillet Blanc. The modern classic has inspired countless riffs in its own right, including the Suzie Americano and the Quill Riff.
This classic whiskey cocktail—which combines equal parts rye, Campari, and dry vermouth—was reportedly first stirred by Harry MacElhone in the 1920s. It’s similar on paper to a Boulevardier, but the choices of whiskey and vermouth produce a slightly spicier and drier drink.
This equal-parts combination of Scotch whisky, Cynar, and sweet vermouth from Philadelphia bartender Paul Dellevigne nods to both the Rob Roy and the Boulevardier. Like the latter, it’s a rich and warming whiskey drink with herbal, bittersweet accents.
Bar pro Joaquín Simó calls this rum Negroni “further evidence that less can sometimes be more.” Simó swaps the traditional gin for a funky overproof rum, which he pairs with two other bold ingredients: Campari and Carpano Antica vermouth.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
At first glance, this combination of blanco tequila, melon liqueur Midori, and gentian liqueur Suze from bartender Bobby Heugel may not look much like a Negroni. But like the classic, the three-ingredient stirred drink follows a similar spirit-sweet-bitter template to create its signature balance (albeit with a strikingly different hue).
Although this cocktail includes none of the Negroni’s original ingredients, bartender Shawn Soole’s combination of Islay scotch, Cynar, and a gentle bianco vermouth nails the tenets of the classic: bold, bittersweet, and balanced.
This absinthe-rinsed Negroni variation first appeared in the 1996 edition of Harry MacElhone’s Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails, which was originally published in 1930. The absinthe rinse is a simple addition that adds extra complexity and herbaceousness to the classic format.