The Negroni is a bartender’s playground. While the original template of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth remains a masterpiece in bittersweet balance, it also offers endless opportunity for variations, tweaks and substitutions. One relatively minor change sounds strange in its description, but one sip and you’ll see why New York City bartending expert Pam Wiznitzer puts cold brew coffee into her take on the Milanese staple.
Rather than adding coffee to the cocktail as a separate ingredient, Wiznitzer infuses cold brew into the crimson Campari liqueur that defines the Negroni. The infusion is versatile—a quick infusion of ten minutes will add subtle but noticeable coffee notes, but you can infuse up to 24-hours for a more robust coffee presence.
A coffee-infused Negroni certainly sounds odd being that coffee and gin aren’t as commonly associated as coffee and whiskey, for instance. But the sweet silkiness of the cold brew mellows some of the Negroni’s rougher edges, and the inherent chocolate notes meld beautifully with the botanicals of the Campari and sweet vermouth. It’s an elegant, slightly caffeinated take on the drink, and may even convert naysayers of Italy’s favorite three-ingredient concoction.
With a bottle of cold brew-infused Campari on hand, you can make a bevy of Cold Brew Negronis. If you’ve tired of that there is plenty of further usage for the infused spirit. It would fit beautifully in a bourbon-based Boulevardier, as the whiskey is a natural pairing with coffee. The Roman Holiday is like a caffeinated Jungle Bird, and you could use the cold brew Campari to amplify its coffee notes. Or, you can simply enjoy it as a highball, with club soda and ice, or add an ounce of sweet vermouth for a cold brew Americano.
1 ounce cold-brew-coffee-infused Campari*
1 ounce gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Garnish: orange twist
Add the cold-brew-coffee-infused Campari, gin and sweet vermouth into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over a large ice cube.
Express an orange twist over the drink and drop it into the glass.
*Cold-brew-coffee-infused Campari: Fill a Mason jar or similar vessel halfway with coffee grounds, and pour in the Campari to fill the jar the rest of the way. Steep for as little as 10 minutes or as long as overnight, then strain the coffee out with a standard coffee filter.