Dry gin, sweet vermouth, and the almost indescribable Campari. Combined together in equal parts over ice makes one of my all-time favorite cocktails: the candy-red Italian aperitif called the Negroni. From June 5-11, local bars and restaurants across the globe will be rousing the classic drink, donating a dollar for each sold to a charity of their choosing. Drinking for charity? Shut up and take my money.
This time of year I take the time to refresh my bar cart with fresh bottles of Campari, Carpano Antica Vermouth, and a few fresh local oranges from my neighbor’s tree to pair with my local booze of choice: Santa Ana’s Blinking Owl Gin.
How I make mine: Combine 1 1/4 ounce of each liquid in a chilled mixing glass and stir. Add ice to further chill and dilute, then strain into a rocks glass. To finish, grab a finger-sized orange peel and 1) fold and pinch it hard to express some natural citrus oils on top of your drink, 2) coat the rim, 3) toss the orange flesh into the liquid, then 4) sip. If it’s not diluted enough, I’ll add an ice cube or two.
Tasting Notes: The flavor reminds me somewhat of eating cranberry-orange salad at Thanksgiving next to my Pall Mall-smoking grandma that’s wearing too much Chanel No. 5. Like grandma, a good Negroni is firmly bitter, but balanced with sweetness, followed with notes of hard cherry candy, cinnamon toothpick, and for some reason, orange rind. Aromatically, I find Antica Vermouth adds a vanilla note to the complex orange aromatics of Campari, and something I still get from Blinking Owl’s gin is a very pleasant hickory smoke note, which still pops out in the finished drink. It all comes together in such a beautiful way.
Want to support Negroni Week? Check out the official website at negroniweek.com, which lists the venues and charities they will be supporting. The Orange County kickoff event happens at 6 p.m. Monday at Mesa in Costa Mesa, where a $10 donation gets you eight 1-ounce tastes of each drink made for the Negroni competition, buffet style food, and a voting ballot. Yours truly will be an official judge, so say hi!
Some of the locations participating in Negroni Week include:
- Mesa – Jordan Kutchma
- Hopscotch – Jose Zepeda
- Beer Belly – Sherwood Souzankari
- The Blind Rabbit – Robert Adamson
- Dry Society – Kyle Tomita
Is your bar missing? Let us know in the comments!