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15 Great Negronis that Break the Rules

Bartenders get creative with the classic cocktail.

Caroline Pardilla

The Negroni is perfect as it is, made from three equal parts of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. And yet bartenders choose to mess with it. Maybe it’s the Negroni's simplicity that begs for change. Whether the drink is barrel-aged, smoked, or slushified. Turned into a pie, a jelly candy, or even an ice cream sandwich. Whatever the reason, everyone wins. Below, a playground of fun riffs on the classic cocktail.

Harlowe’s Chocolate Negroni on Draft, Los Angeles

General manager Chris Amirault always wanted to change the Negroni’s finish from bitter orange to bitter chocolate, so for his draft cocktail he infused Campari with rich cocoa nibs. He also adds a pinch of salt to the Ford’s gin and sweet vermouth mix.

The Corner Door's Taco Truck, Los Angeles

This Negroni variation by Eater LA's Bartender of the Year Beau du Bois will haunt your dreams. Not only does it switch out the one part gin for two parts of smokey mezcal, but the Campari is infused with pineapple and cinnamon, giving the classic cocktail extra complexity and unexpected layers.

Lazy Bear’s Negroni Pate de Fruit, San Francisco

Lazy Bear added the Negroni to its dessert menu by creating a fruit-based jelly candy made with Campari and grapefruit. The square is tossed in sugar mixed with gin spices (juniper, coriander, fennel seed), then filled with a sweet vermouth and Campari reduction. It’s garnished with an orange peel.

Hakkasan’s Smoky Negroni, Las Vegas

For a cocktail show, order this elaborate Smoky Negroni. The bartender will fill a decanter containing a Negroni (Ransom Old Tom barrel-aged gin, Antica Formula vermouth, Campari) with smoke from Grand Marnier-infused wood chips. It makes for quite the performance.

Bound by Salvatore Calabrese’s Negroni Svegliato, Las Vegas

Cocktail writer Gaz Regan named this drink one of 101 best new cocktails. Originally it was served at Calabrese’s Playboy bar in London, but it's now also available at his new bar within Caesar’s Palace in Vegas. Presented in an Italian Moka Pot, this espresso cocktail is made with Martini Gran Lusso-flavored espresso, Tanqueray No. Ten Gin and Campari. The coffee enhances the drink's bitter notes.

Photo: Caroline Pardilla

Colt & Gray’s Bottecchia, Denver

A perfect Negroni variation by bartender Kevin Burke for the dark of heart. The recipe replaces the standard gin and sweet vermouth with all things bitter: Fernet Branca and Cynar. A pinch of salt to finish makes this a savory sip.

Canon’s Negroni Experiment, Seattle

For those who can’t get enough Negroni, The Negroni Experiment offers three variations made with gin, rye, and rum.

Clyde Common’s Barrel-Aged Negroni, Portland

Bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s barrel-aged Negroni put barrel-aging cocktails on the map. His version served at Clyde Commons sits in an oak barrel for five to seven weeks to mellow out the Campari's sharpness. This makes for the smoothest Negroni.

Pearl & Ash's Negroni Ice Cream Sandwich, NYC

End a meal with this inventive ice cream sandwich. Can't go wrong with ice cream infused with Campari, rosso Vermouth and gin and sandwiched between two orange-vanilla flavored cakes.

Saxon + Parole‘s Bottled Champagne Negroni, NYC

For a refreshing Negroni, try this bottled Champagne version. It’s made from the usual suspects of Beefeater, Campari, and sweet vermouth, but carbonated and topped with Champagne. These bottles can be enjoyed solo for $14 or by bucket of four for $52.

Florian’s Bespoke Negroni, NYC

Guests choose their own bespoke adventure by picking which spirit (gin, vodka, whiskey), vermouth (Carpano, Americano Bianco, St. Germain), and bitters (Campari, Cynar, Aperol) they want.

The Gilroy’s Eight Negronis, NYC

Negroni lovers who are looking to explore outside the box will love the fact that this restaurant offers eight Negroni options. Apart from the classic Old Pal and Boulevardier, there’s also a Negroni made with mezcal, one with white corn whiskey, and even a vodka version which switches out Campari for a softer Aperol.

Butter & Scotch's Negroni Pie, NYC

The stuff that boozers' dreams are made of, the Negroni pie by boozy bakers Keavy Blueher and Allison Kave has a custard filling of Campari, London Dry Gin, and sweet vermouth. The thing is topped with a vanilla and orange zest whipped cream.

Planter’s House’s Negroni-inspired menu, St. Louis

How much does this bar love Negronis? It has a special menu dedicated to the cocktail, showcasing 11 variations. For something really different, try the Shot Through the Heart made with Los Nahuales Reposado Mezcal, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Cynar, cardamom tincture, orange zest, and salt. Or A Simple Notion with Campari, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, Big O Ginger Liqueur, and Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin.

Parson’s Chicken and Fish’s Negroni Slushie, Chicago

Even though this Chicago eatery has several cocktail slushies on hand, the Negroni slushie is its top seller. Made with local Letherbee gin, Luxardo bitter liqueur, sweet vermouth, and citrus juice, this chilly concoction by bar manager Charlie Schott will brighten up any day.

Photo credits from top to bottom: Harlowe, The Corner Door, Lazy Bear, Caroline Pardilla, Caroline Pardilla, Kevin Burke, Facebook/ Canon, David Reamer, Pearl & Ash, Lizzie Starr, Florian, Facebook/ The Gilroy, Butter & Scotch, Facebook/ Planter's House, Parson's Chicken and Fish


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