We don’t make the rules—we just observe them—and the rule happens to be that summertime is gin season. Furthermore, there’s no stronger contender for the title of Best Gin Cocktail than the almighty Negroni. (Never made at a G&T or a martini, however.)
Similar to its lower-alcohol cousin, the Americano, the Negroni is a cocktail of fabled and obscure Italian origin that leans heavily on bitter liqueurs and makes a perfect pre-meal apéritif to whet the appetite. (It's also not bad during a meal, or after a meal. Or anytime, really.) It's comprised of a simple, easy-to-recall ratio—a 1:1:1 of sweet vermouth, Campari, and gin—that results in something as delicious as it is unfussy and classic. And, like a number of other bitter spirits, it’s been experiencing a renaissance of popularity in American cocktail culture in the last decade.
Its popularity has become so widespread that five years ago, the makers of Campari and the folks behind booze mag Imbibe launched Negroni Week. For the first full week of June, bars across the country, and now the world, donate a portion of their profits from the sale of Negronis to charities selected by Campari and Imbibe. Since 2013, donations from Negroni Week have topped $1.5 million. This year, participating bars can choose for their proceeds to benefit over 40 different charities, ranging from food banks and anti-hunger non-profits around the world to the Arbor Day Foundation to Lambda Legal, a legal aid non-profit that focuses on LGBT civil rights and aid for those living with HIV. You can find a bar or venue participating near you using the Negroni Week official locator.
Or, you can raise a glass in solidarity from the comfort of your own home, backyard, or stoop. We’ve pulled two excellent versions of the Negroni from our recipe archives for your drinking pleasure.
First, the classic. It’s not really even fair to call this a “recipe,” as its more a truism of alcohol that simply leads to a very satisfying beverage. A citrus peel garnish is incredibly important, too. You can watch Philly barman Vincent Stipo’s stirring technique below. (His pro tip? Don’t shake it! You’ll bruise the spirits.)
Next, to truly enjoy this week of Negroni indulgence, we’ve found a way for you to start drinking them as early as possible with a version that is designed to be consumed for breakfast. Bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout figured the bitter orange flavor of Campari was begging for chocolate—a natural combo—which is why he decided to infuse the his sweet vermouth with even sweeter Cocoa Puffs. He went all in on the bitter cocoa flavors with a few dashes of salted cacao bitters, like the ones from Workhorse Rye.
Try to throw a few bucks to charity while you're at it. Negroni Week > Christmas—that's the new rule.