When it comes to booze, there are two weeks circled on my calendar each year. OC Beer Week, which happened back in April, and Negroni Week, which kicks off this Monday, June 4th. You see, the Negroni is quite possibly the best cocktail ever created. Its bouquet of citrusy rhubarb salad aromatics are balanced with the spicy bitter backbone of Campari, a healthy dose of juniper from the gin du jour, and an extra layer of balance from sweet vermouth.
The Negroni is akin to a rock ‘n’ roll power trio, except an Italian dude named Davide Campari is always on the bass, slapping your tongue to a funky beat.
As if the drink couldn’t get any better, Negroni week is more than just a worldwide celebration of the classic Campari-gin-vermouth trio; the event is also garnished with a healthy dose of fundraising. Locally, Negroni Week stirs things up at Mesa on Monday night, and for a mere ten dollars, you’re treated to ten takes on the classic drink from the county’s best bartenders. Don’t expect ten of the same thing…they’re all vastly different and you can vote on your favorite.
Although the bartenders are forced to use the same gin (last year was The Botanist…one of my favorites), the difference lies in the sweet vermouth choice, any infusions the bartender might make with it, presentations, and garnishes. Robert Adamson from the Blind Rabbit last year served his Mad Hatter-style with a tea & crumpet prep, whereas winner Isabella Martinez from ECCO took a modern approach with a hibiscus infusion with pink sea salt and chocolate shavings…unanimously winning the judges choice.
The fun doesn’t stop there, as many restaurants and bars offer a Negroni menu for the week, donating a dollar per drink sold to the charity of their choice. As the week unfolds, be sure to check negroniweek.com for a complete listing of the area’s participating bars.
Negroni Week Kick Off
Monday, June 4 at Mesa, 725 Baker St., Costa Mesa
Check out a video of last year’s event!