History of the Negroni

Over the past decade, negronis, made with equal parts gin, vermouth and bitters, have enjoyed a surge of popularity, going from a relatively unknown aperitif to a classic cocktail must-have.

One legend holds that the drink was first created in Florence in 1919 as the brainchild of bartender Forsco Scarselli and gin aficionado Count Camillo Negroni. The count was after a stronger version of his favourite cocktail, the Americano, and Scarselli delivered by replacing the soda water with gin, and swapping the traditional lemon out for an orange. And on that night, the negroni was born.

Regardless of its true origins, the negroni became an instant favourite, beloved— and feared—throughout Italy for its potency. American actor Orson Wells is widely credited with the first mention of the negroni, describing it to a friend in 1947, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” By the 1950s it was found in cocktail guides around the world, before retreating into relative obscurity.

In the early 2000s, the cocktail world refocused its attention on the classics, and interest in ingredients like small-batch gin and bitters was piqued. Sensing an opportunity, Campari launched “The Year of the Negroni” in 2011, reintroducing the drink to audiences around the world with large scale events including the first ever “Negroni Week.” The 2017 “Negroni Week” runs from June 5 through June 11 and features more than 6,000 participating bars and restaurants.

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