A classic Negroni is undeniably boozy, composed entirely of alcoholic ingredients. That didn’t stop Hyatt national bar director Miranda Breedlove from setting out to create a zero-proof version for Chez Maggy at the Thompson Denver. Breedlove was inspired by the restaurant’s chef/partner, Ludo Lefebvre, whose favorite classic cocktail is the equal-parts combination of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
“I wanted to be able to share the drink with all Chez Maggy guests regardless of whether they choose to consume alcohol or not,” she says.
Thankfully, a new wave of zero-proof spirits and liqueurs made the task at hand a lot easier. “I started by looking at each component of the drink and searched for the best way to replicate the overall body, balance, and bitterness of the cocktail,” says Breedlove. She uses Ritual Gin Alternative, which has “a bit of a spicy characteristic to help mimic the heat of a traditional gin,” and Lyre’s Apéritif Rosso to evoke sweet vermouth and lend the drink “sugar, body, and aromatics.”
Campari is an integral ingredient in almost any Negroni variation. To approximate its unique flavors, Breedlove reaches for an amaro-like aperitif from Ghia, a brand known for its ready-to-drink bitter sodas. “It adds just the right amount of citrus, botanics, and bitterness to the cocktail,” she says.
While a standard Negroni is made with equal measures of each ingredient, Breedlove leans a little heavier on the bitter elements than the gin substitute, aiming to compensate for the lack of alcoholic punch. “Added all together in the right amounts, this drink does a great job of paying homage to the classic alcoholic Negroni,” she says.
1 ounce Ritual Gin Alternative
1 1/2 ounces Lyre’s Apéritif Rosso
1 1/2 ounces Ghia Apéritif
Garnish: orange peel
Add the gin and aperitifs to a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass over a large, 2x2-inch ice cube.
Garnish with an orange peel.
What Is a Negroni?
A classic Negroni contains equal parts gin, the bittersweet amaro Campari, and sweet vermouth (an aromatized wine). As the legend goes, in the 20th century Italian Count Emilio Negroni asked a bartender to strengthen his favorite cocktail, the Americano, by swapping the usual soda water for gin. The format has lent itself to countless variations over the years, including the Negroni Sbagliato and the White Negroni.
Where Can I Buy the Ingredients?
Ritual Gin Alternative, Lyre’s Apéritif Rosso, and Ghia Apéritif can all be purchased directly from the retailers, on Amazon, and from non-alcoholic bottle shops such as Boisson. Ritual can be purchased at grocery stores in select markets including Whole Foods, Kroger, and Hyvee. Lyre’s and Ghia are available at select liquor stores across the country.