Why More People Are Drinking the Negroni Cocktail
In bars all across America, there's been a resurgence in popularity of classic cocktail recipes like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Sidecar, and Tom Collins. Over the last five years or so, they seem to be more popular than ever, and there are many factors for this.
First of all, popular culture always dictates our choices. Much like women were drinking Cosmopolitans in the 2000s thanks to Sex and the City, recent years have seen ordering habits influenced by shows like Mad Men. Classic recipes are emerging in speakeasy-style bars because of these nostalgic demands.
Another reason people are returning to their roots is the change in the American palate. Americans are becoming more adventurous in their culinary considerations. Bolder, more interesting flavors are in style. In many cases, classic cocktail recipes are simpler and more ingredient-focused, which allows for the bold flavors of a particular spirit to come through.
Lastly, we have to look at the ingredients themselves. In the last decade, we've seen authentic absinthe being sold in shops all across the country. Boutique bitters are all the rage. And there's a collective craving for classic ingredients like vermouth, which brings us to the point of this article.
The Negroni is often considered to be one of the world's classic cocktails. Though its true origins are uncertain, the favored story is that it was invented in a bar in Florence, Italy where Count Negroni ordered his bartender to make a stronger Americano by adding gin instead of soda water.
The drink is a simple one. It's made with one part Campari, one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, and an orange peel. But it's this last ingredient that likely led to its decrease in popularity in the last century, as well as its increased popularity today.
Vermouth is essentially a fortified wine, and like all wines, it should not be left on top of the bar for storage. Unfortunately, improper storage along with a decrease in production quality led to a downturn in popularity of vermouth based cocktails like the Negroni.
Today, though, high-quality vermouth is widely available, and bar keepers are keeping it refrigerated during storage. This has drastically enhanced the quality of the Negroni and other vermouth-based cocktails. Equipment like the Tobin Ellis Signature Cocktail Station from Perlick have special refrigeration compartments for storing vermouth, and the ergonomics allow bartenders to crank out cocktails like the Negroni and Manhattan without compromising quality.
Learn more about the resurgence of vermouth from Tobin Ellis himself. Watch this entertaining video as he discusses classic cocktails and new ways to enhance the efficiency of your bar.
* Photos courtesy of Matthias Friedlein and Dana Robinson