This week sees a seven-day celebration of that classic Italian aperitivo, the Negroni.

The drink itself has been around for almost a century yet it’s only the last handful of years that have seen its popularity spill over from the street-side caffes, osterias and ristorantes of Italy and into the mouths of urbane drinkers west of the Alps.

As with most bone fide classic cocktails, its exact origins are somewhat murky – though, as origin stories go, the Negroni’s is as compelling, contentious and as varied as that of any comicbook superhero.

One of the few details not up for debate is that it was named after someone bearing the moniker Negroni.

Whether he was an Italian Count recently back from his adventures in America (where he may or may not have variously been a rodeo rider, a banker or even a Count) or a Corsican General (who may also have been a Count) posted to Senegal in the middle of the 19 th century is quite fiercely contested, at least by those with a claim to the name.

The fact that there is no mention of the drink prior to the 1950s only muddies the water further.

And, like any classic cocktail, the Negroni has several close cousins that vary in the addition, subtraction or substitution of just a single ingredient.

Mercifully the Negroni is an uncomplicated drink using equal measures of three readily-available ingredients, stirred simply over ice and garnished with orange peel.

Lack of complication doesn’t mean lack of complexity, though; the first-time Negroni drinker should be wary of the drink’s depth, intensity and absence of immediate sweetness.

It may share its vibrant, pinkish hue with a Cosmopolitan but the Negroni is much more a Don Draper than a Carrie Bradshaw.

However the cocktail first came into being, there’s no denying its popularity and success.

And, if you find yourself in one of these Scottish establishments over the weekend, be sure to order one from the bar.

Not only can you discuss the ins-and-outs of its origin, you’ll also be supporting the work of charities across the globe.

Bryant & Mack

87 Rose Street North Lane, Edinburgh

Negroni

Picture: Bryant & Mack

Frizzante Proseccheria

95 Lothian Road, Edinburgh

Gin 71 

No. 9 South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh

Negroni

Picture: Gin 71

Tigerlily

125 George Street, Edinburgh

Zucca Restaurant

15-17 Grindlay Street, Edinburgh

About The Author

Iain Meldrum

Iain Meldrum (aka Mixolosopher) has over a decade of experience at the top of the drinks industry as both a bartender and trainer. He is passionate about all things alcoholic - though in a responsible and philosophical way, of course.

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