A Negroni Lover's Guide To Drinking In Rome

Whether ordered in a ritzy hotel lounge or at a beloved blue-collar bolthole, Negroni drinking in Rome never seems to disappoint. It is after all what the Bellini is to Venice, though its presentation varies; sometimes you find it served in a tumbler with a twist of orange, other moments it arrives to the table in highball glass with a speared olive. The common thread is three main ingredients: Italian-made bitter Campari, sweet vermouth and gin. However it arrives, the drink's origins are hard to pin down — some say Florence, others point to Treviso. Today the Negroni, and the dozen or so spins you are likely to find, are internationally pervasive and found on most bar menus — which has caused a share of backlash as well. But in the Italian capitol, it's drunk with vigor. Here's where to find it. 

Le Grand Bar: The St. Regis Rome

Half the reason for coming to Le Grand Bar is to see the inside of one of Rome's Grand Dame hotels. Its location, a five minute walk from the Termini train station, makes it a handy spot to grab a quick drink before catching a train. The bar itself was recently refurbished. It's bright and richly furnished with antiques and pillowy armchairs. The range of gin and vermouth here is varied, and the bartenders always pour a deliciously lethal Negroni. Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando 3, +39 064709, stregisrome.com

Pasticeria Dagnino

On its own the Pasticeria Dagnino is a pretty damn good Sicilian pastry shop. So why come here for a Negroni? Two reasons: the barmen, generous Sicilian souls, pour a strong, balanced and big Negroni at an excellent value; around €6 (or about $8). The location itself is tucked inside a shopping arcade that wraps around Piazza Republica, also a five minute walk from Termini train station. Apart from breakfast and lunch (when very decent Sicilian street foods and desserts are served), this place is quiet and strangely removed from the crush of traffic honking nearby. Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 75, +39 06 4818660, pasticceriadagnino.com

Stravinskij Bar: Hotel de Russie

If you come to the Hotel de Russie for drinks, visit during the summer and sit outside at the Stravinskij Bar on the adjoining Piazzette Valadier. Day or night, this place is charming, set as it is among a private garden of palms, olive trees and fragrant flowering vines and bushes. The Stravinskij Bar is well known for their alcohol-free cocktails made with fresh local berries and other fruits. Still, their wine list is excellent, and their Negronis, though a little pricey, are ample, strong and worth every euro. Via del Babuino 9, +39 06 32 88 81, hotelderussie.it

The Hassler Hotel's bar pours one of the city's finest Negronis.

Hassler Bar: Hotel Hassler

People come to the Hassler Bar for a number of reasons. One is to spend time in its cozy wood-panelled surrounds, stuffed with red lather booths and stools — where Audrey Hepburn and other Hollywood luminaries used to imbibe. This itsy bar is annexed to the hotel's Salone Eva restaurant. When you enter, look for the bartender Luigino Berardi, who has been slinging drinks for over 30 years. Berardi serves his stirred Negroni in a medium crystal tumbler with an orange twist, keeping true to ingredients like Bombay Saphire gin, Martini Rosso and Campari. Piazza Trinita dei Monti 6, +39 06699340, hotelhasslerroma.com

Bar San Calisto

Bar San Calisto in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood is no relation to the aforementioned glitzy hotel bars. In fact, nothing about this unassuming bar, aside from its rag-tag patrons – artists, drunks and their tag alongs – screams fascinator. Still, the place holds it own in the realm of popular Roman bars. Inside, its plastic looking wood panelling and green marble bar countertops isn't exactly flattering under the milky neon bulbs that wash the place in jarring light. Yet, the bartender keeps an enormous bottle of pre-mixed negroni in the fridge, and for €3.50 (or about $5), you get a quadruple shot of the stuff (it's actually not that bad), in a very tall, thick bottom shot glass; the kind typically used for digestive drinks. Sit outside if you can find a table, and if you don't mind the mixed perfume of burning cigarettes and hash, stick around and watch the entertaining crowd. Piazza di San Calisto, +39 06 583 5869

Antico Caffè della Pace

Since 1891, this ochre-stained, ivy clad building has been home to Antico Caffè della Pace, one of the most elegant and modish places to relax with a drink and be seen. It's far away enough from Piazza Navona so that all the tourist trinkets aren't encroaching on the bar's outside seating. It's another of those Roman venues which is best enjoyed in summer when you can sit outside under the blazing sun or at night beneath the amber light of the street lamps. Drinks here are expensive, and a round of four Negroni, delicious as they are, will cost you close to $80. Via della Pace 3/7, +39 06 686 1216, caffedellapace.it

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