There are nearly as many Negroni variations as there are people making them. Some swap out gin for another spirit, like the Mezcal Negroni, while others tweak the Campari or vermouth—think White Negroni. For his Stranger in the Alps cocktail, Nashville bartender Matthew Tocco charts his own path, sticking with the holy trinity of gin, Campari and vermouth but adding two unique additions to the equation: an Oregon brandy and an Italian alpine liqueur.
Tocco begins by rinsing a glass with Clear Creek Douglas Fir brandy, which adds just a hint of flavor and fragrance to the drink. The distillery describes its brandy as “a tree in a bottle” and makes it by infusing fresh Douglas fir buds in eau de vie, giving the spirit a kick of green, herbal flavors and aromas. Tocco also calls upon Braulio Amaro, which is made from a recipe of more than 20 mountain herbs and botanicals, including gentian, juniper, peppermint, star anise and wormwood. It’s delightfully bitter, with a cooling hit of pine and menthol.
While the classic Negroni uses equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari, Tocco dials up the gin, ensuring that it can stand tall alongside the rich vermouth and one-two punch of bitter liqueurs. A pinch of salt further highlights the flavors and helps to bring all the components together into one harmonious package.
Rinse a rocks glass with the Douglas Fir brandy, discard the excess and set aside.
Add gin, vermouth, Campari, Braulio and salt to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into the prepared rocks glass over fresh ice.
Garnish with a lemon peel.