Using genever in place of gin when making a Negroni is one of many ways to riff upon this classic recipe—it is perhaps the only spirit, however, that can bring not only the juniper, but also a bodied maltiness to the drink all on its own. For those unfamiliar, genever is essentially the Dutch grandfather of gin as we know it today—made from malted grain and flavored with juniper, this age-old spirit is known for its earthy, nutty qualities that can step up the complexity of many cocktails (including the Negroni). New York City bartender and beverage consultant Paula Lukas elaborates: “Replacing the traditional gin in a Negroni with genever gives it a mellow, malty flavor. Genever tastes very similar to unaged whisky, and brings a certain warmth to the cocktail.”
Christopher M. Gonzalez, a bartender at the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles, California, shares his perspective on genever as a cocktail base: “Genever will take you to a new place of refreshingly sweet smoothness. In combination with [smaller proportions of] Campari and sweet vermouth, you are allowing the genever to come forward and blend magically in true form,” he says. “If you want the best experience, choose your sweet vermouth wisely, and try different brands closest to your liking—there are many great classic versions and some great craft spirit brands coming out.”
If the Negroni—or any variation thereof—is too boozy for your taste, make like an early 20th century Italian and stretch it out with some soda water. This style, which is usually made without the spirit base (so just Campari and sweet vermouth), is known as an Americano, but keeping the genever (or gin) in the mix won’t hurt. With the classics, it’s all about finding the right recipe for your palate, and the Negroni is an easy and flexible canvas to play around with.
- 1 1/2 ounces Bols genever
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- Garnish: orange half-wheel or orange twist
Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish with an orange half-wheel or a large orange twist.