Although its name loosely translates to “mistaken Negroni,” the Negroni Sbagliato is the correct move when you’re craving a lower-alcohol, spritzy take on the classic. While a traditional Negroni combines equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, this lighter variation swaps the gin for prosecco or another sparkling wine.
Many home bartenders started memorizing the specs in 2022, after House of Dragons stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke drew attention to the drink in a viral TikTok. However, the bittersweet aperitivo was invented decades earlier at Milan, Italy’s famed Bar Basso, by its late bartender and proprietor Mirko Stochetto.
Despite the drink’s name, its inception in 1967 wasn’t really a mistake, according to Stochetto’s son Maurizio, who runs the bar today. A customer ordered a Negroni, and when Stochetto realized he had grabbed a bottle of prosecco instead of gin, he didn’t return it to the back bar. “It occurred to him that the combination made some sense,” recalls the younger Stochetto. “And so he poured the sparkling wine saying, ‘Oh, today, it’s a sunny day, so let’s get something smoother.’ ”
On the alcohol spectrum, the Negroni Sbagliato sits somewhere in between the Americano—made with soda water instead of gin—and a full-proof Negroni. It’s the perfect drink for aperitivo hour, or any time you want to sip a balanced cocktail that is, in Cooke’s words, “stunning.”
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce prosecco or other sparkling wine
Garnish: orange peel
Add the Campari and sweet vermouth to a mixing glass filled with ice, and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, or serve up in a Champagne flute without ice (optional).
Top with prosecco.
Garnish with an orange peel.
What Is In a Negroni?
A classic Negroni is composed of equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth. Legend has it that in the 19th century, Italian Count Negroni asked a bartender to strengthen his favorite cocktail, the Americano, by swapping its usual soda water for gin.
What Is Campari?
Campari is a bright-red amaro that was first invented near Milan in 1860 by Gaspare Campari. Like most amari, its recipe is a closely-held secret, but many drinkers speculate the prominent bitter and citrusy flavor comes from chinotto oranges. The red Italian bitter features in countless cocktails, and you can also top with soda water for a simple aperitivo.
Do I Have to Use Prosecco?
If you’ve watched the viral clip (“A Negroni Sbagliato…with prosecco in it”), you’re almost certainly aware of the drink’s star ingredient. Prosecco of all classifications is relatively inexpensive, making it a great choice for cocktails. It also has vigorous bubbles and a largely fruit-forward flavor that lends itself to a citrusy drink like the Negroni. A good substitute would be a younger cava like cava de guarda, which generally is fresher and more fruit-forward. You can certainly use other sparkling wines, too, but they might affect the intended flavor profile and body of the drink. You can also combine a dry white wine with a splash of soda water.