Three components—all equal parts—combine for the complex marriage that is the Negroni. Campari is the anchor. It’s a mysterious spirit, bottled in such a deep shade of red that beetle blood was once rumored to be one of the main ingredients. (Fact: Not true). The secretive Milanese producers will only say the complex aperitif is made from 60 herbs, spices and fruit peels. Sweet vermouth and gin rounds out the drink. We prefer to use a soft, less juniper-leaning gin like Plymouth — as not to offset the herbaceous kick from the Campari. The vermouth should also not overpower. We prefer Vya over Carpano Antica.
Shaken or served on the rocks and always garnished with an orange twist, the drink starts overwhelmingly bitter — like your palate has jumped into an icy plunge pool. It finishes sweeter as the gin takes control. And even though there is a chance the first Negroni will be your last, if you dig it, you DIG IT. And as far as I can tell, the mixology community digs it — having created hundreds of variations over the last year alone. Bourbon, cognac and even mezcal have been substituted to surprising results. Here are five unique spins.