Fiola's seasonal Negroni Fragola. Courtesy of Fiola.
Nearly every reputable bar in America can make a good Negroni. With the appetite-revving qualities of any great apéritif and a good kick of alcohol, the bitter cocktail composed of equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari is an industry favorite that's now inspiring delicious variations. In Washington, DC, chef Fabio Trabocchi’s Tuscan-style trattoria Fiola recently devoted an entire page of its drink list to the Florentine classic.
Fiola bar manager Jeff Faile came up with seven takes on the recipe, many of which rely on an influx of new amaros (bitter liqueurs) in DC. “My distributor has me on speed dial whenever something bitter comes in,” Faile says.
His menu opens with a Negroni Bianco made from peaty Botanist gin, light Cocchi Americano—an apertivo made with orange peels—and floral Dolin Blanc vermouth. “Quite a few people have their own variation of a Negroni Bianco—it’s almost becoming a classic in itself,” Faile says.
The Negroni Vittorio blends powerful Zucca (a rhubarb-based amaro) with malty, herbal Genevieve gin and anise-scented Cocchi vermouth for an especially strong and pungent offering. Faile’s latest Negroni Jalisco is his biggest departure yet from the original, going so far as to swap vegetal Espolon Reposado tequila for gin and combine it with the complex French liqueur Suze (which landed in the US this year), Dolin Blanc and grapefruit bitters.
Faile likes to experiment, but he doesn't stray too far from the standard trio of bitter, sweet and boozy ingredients. Despite its ever-growing popularity, he hopes the Negroni won't join the ranks of over-adulterated classic cocktails (see: fruity martinis and frozen daiquiris). “Negronis have such a specific following and fan base. I can’t imagine the newly 21-year-old drinker going out to the local sports bar asking for a raspberry Negroni,” Faile says.
Gran Electrica, Brooklyn, NY
The Mexican café’s tequila-centric bar serves the Vida de Mole, a smoky Mexican take on a Negroni made with Del Maguey mezcal, Noilly Prat sweet vermouth, Campari and Bittermen’s Xocolatl mole bitters.
The Violet Hour, Chicago
One of F&W’s top 50 bars puts a summery twist on the Negroni by adding orange flower water to gin, spicy Cocchi di Torino and Luxardo Bitter—a rich, bitter liquor similar to Campari.
West of Pecos, San Francisco
The recently opened Southwestern restaurant has a massive Texas longhorn skull mounted on the dining room wall and a Mexican-influenced craft cocktail list. The Rodeo Ghost substitutes bittersweet Zucca amaro for Campari and mezcal for the usual gin. It's finished with mole bitters.
Red Rooster, New York
Marcus Sammeulsson’s Swedish-inflected soul food restaurant offers a Negroni variation that plays on the restaurant's Southern influences by spotlighting bourbon. The Bourbon Negroni mixes roasted fig-and-pear-infused whiskey with Campari and sweet vermouth.