It took me years to appreciate Campari. My first experience made me only see her as aggressive, offensive and brutish. But I didn't like bitter things then--I didn't like West Coast IPAs or Fernet. My palate has changed a lot--I've come to love Campari and its bitter ilk. But the thing that really warmed me up to the spirit was the classic cocktail the Negroni. And the thing that turned me on to the Negroni wasn't Campari at all, but a sweeter, richer bitter called Gran Classico. After a year or two of drinking those I moved onto the classic recipe, and now it's my go-to before-dinner cocktail. And, like the Manhattan, you've got a lot of options to play around with. Which gin will you use? What style of vermouth? Campari or Capelleti? First, start with the basics.
1 oz Campari
1 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
-Gran Classico Negroni-
1 oz Gran Classico bitter
1 oz Vya sweet vermouth
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled coupe or a tumbler with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange peel, after squeezing the oils from the peel onto the top of the drink.
Notes:-I prefer my Negroni served up, personally. Though many would argue for them on the rocks (or perhaps one giant rock?), when I'm at home, they're up about 99% of the time. When I'm out, well, I never specify unless I've been asked. I just see what comes to me--it's more fun that way. And as someone who's curious about how others in my industry do things, I like the surprise. Except for the time a bartender freepoured his with Seagrams 7. I did not like that surprise one bit.
-Some will serve their Negronis with a slice of orange. That is fine, but it's not my ideal. The orange oils are what really bring this cocktail together. You really want a nice squeeze of them on top of the cocktail.
-Good bartenders are opinionated, which is awesome, because they care a lot about the craft. I know plenty of bar folk who absolutely hate Negronis with Carpano Antica, for various reasons. That's not a debate I care to get into here. From my experience, I think Carpano is one of the most versatile vermouths out there (at least as far as the US market is concerned.) Juuuust right there in the middle for me. So yea, I say make your Negronis with it, but experiment too.