Negronis

I like Campari, so I decided to play around with a few variations on negronis.  Negronis, for those of you who haven't seen The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, is the classic Italian cocktail with equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari.  Some drinkers add soda to turn it into a quasi-Americano, but I never understand the point of watering down perfectly good liquor (unless it is to be able to drink more of it).

The negroni was invented in 1919 by an Italian count of that name.  For a while his family manufactured ready-to-drink versions (the Gatorade of the time). Orson Welles wrote to someone when he was working in Italy in the 1940s: "The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other."

As you may recall from my more regular ramblings a couple years ago, I'm not a big fan of sweet vermouth (it may be I just have never had really good sweet vermouth).  So for my first attempt, I used the usual gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, but cut back on the vermouth to maybe 1/2 the amount of the other ingredients and used a little Mandarine Napoleon.

Not a bad drink.  It was sweeter than the usual negroni, but the orange cut the Campari's bitterness and made it a bit sweeter.  I'm not a big sweet cocktail fan, but I liked this.

Second was one made with Punt e Mes.  I wrote about this pumped up sweet vermouth a couple years ago.  PeM takes the place of the Campari in the drink, but making a negroni with a double shot of PeM in lieu of using the vermouth doesn't work well, as I found out back then. This year, the flavor just seemed rather blah to me.  Too much vermouth flavor and not enough bitters; I'd just as soon use Campari.

Next, I tried my own invention, a 'perfect' negroni using gin, half a measure of sweet vermouth, half a measure of dry vermouth, and Campari.  This was the best of the batch, I think:  the dry vermouth cut back on the sweet's obnoxiousness, and you still get the Campari kick.

Last, I was really adventurous:  a negroni made with Pimm's.  Why not?  Pimm's is just gin on steroids.  And the negroni tasted like a drink on steroids too.  Very strong flavors, and it really packed a punch.  I used an ounce of each ingredient, and towards the bottom of the glass I was feeling like I'd drunk some of the brandy punch I made a couple years ago that threw me for a loop.  (Admittedly I hadn't eaten much supper.)  I'm not sure this totally works, but with some tweaking you might be able to turn it into a pretty lethal cocktail.