You’ve probably cradled a Negroni at some point, trying to make the strong drink last a little longer or hold out until your eyes stop watering, but do you know the history of the spirit-rich cocktail?
Well, legend has it that over a hundred years ago, a certain Italian Count – Camillo Negroni to be exact – asked for his regular drink, the Americano, to be made stronger by swapping the soda water for gin.
His friend, Florentine bartender Forsco Scarselli did just as he was asked but went one step further, garnishing the drink with orange instead of lemon. Word got around and soon enough everyone was ordering a Negroni – including me, a whole century later!
Count Negroni’s take on switching up a classic got me thinking about how I could take the Negroni one step further again, elevating the tipple from traditional to experimental. Already heady with notes of orange, I knew I wanted to add zingy, sweet flavours to complement the well-loved original.
Luckily an afternoon at Mum’s was all the inspiration I needed. Enjoying spoonfuls of her sweet rhubarb and ginger crumble with vanilla custard in the garden, it came to me. The classic vermouth, bitters, gin muddle but with orange, rhubarb and ginger mixed in, too. (Not to blow my own horn but that sounds delicious, right?) My cocktail brain whirring to life, it wasn’t five minutes before I started raiding the cupboards looking for the ingredients to make my Eureka moment a reality.
Sipping the result, a deliciously bitter, sweet and bright Negroni, I knew we’d struck gold. But there was still something missing. The gin needed to be more than just fresh Botanics, I felt it needed to have some warmth to it too.
Not a few weeks later and I was introduced to a different type of gin. A spectacularly innovative blend of fresh juniper, sweet vanilla, jammy berries and woody spice: Conker Spirit's Port Barrel Gin.
Usually, Conker specialises in distilling invigorating, crisp spirits like their award-winning Dorset Dry gin. The Port Barrel gin, however, was a wonderful twist on their original – a gin with the warmth and sweetness of an aged Ruby Port. I was fascinated.
The clever folks behind Conker, realised that resting their Dorset Dry gin in used Port barrels from Portugal oak, infusing the gin with warmth and spice from the Ruby Port it previously housed. Not only does it taste spectacular but the amber-ruby colour muddles beautifully in my Negroni. It truly was a match made in Negroni heaven. It was exactly what I had been looking for and now it had landed in my lap! What are the odds of that.
I tried my new rhubarb and ginger drink with Conker’s port barrel gin and the rest is history. It’s delectably drinkable – traceable to the original but a fresh take on what we already know and love. You’re going to love it.
Because I like to make life as easy as possible for you, the only things you’ll need to make this tipple at home are some short glasses and a handful of ice cubes. No, really – that’s it!
And if you want to raise a toast to me, Count Cocktail Man as you do so… well, I won’t say no😉
The CM x