Updated: Sep 12
It's still summer and it's Negroni week! The murky origin of the Negroni is especially fitting in conjunction with the post on Casa Malaparte. Legend has it that it was Count Camillo Negroni who requested the drink at the Caffé Casoni. According to the popular myth he developed his taste for strong liquor while traveling the US as an “adventurer, cowboy, banker and riverboat gambler in the Wild West”. (1) When he returned to Florence in 1919, he ordered the Italian aperitivo the Americano, (sweet vermouth and Campari) with an addition of gin at Café Casoni (currently café Giacosa) in Florence. The House of Negroni website has taken this myth one step further claiming Count Camillo Negroni not only hung out with cowboys but was in fact a rodeo clown…(wait was this written by Curzio Malaparte?)
Another contender for the inventor of the Negroni was Count Pascal Olivier de Negroni, a French brigadier general, originally from Corsica, whose descendants claim he invented the cocktail while stationed in Senegal with his wife. (The family claims they were the Corsican black knights who served King Louis XVI, which is where they derived their name- Negroni. Wow.) After inventing the cocktail in Senegal, he introduced it to the officer’s club in Paris and from there it made its way to bars everywhere…Francois Negroni (one of the descendants) continues to vociferously claim authorship of the cocktail on behalf of his ancestor to this day.(2)
And then there is the Negroni Antica Distillery, located outside of Venice which has been manufacturing a Negroni in a bottle since 1919…not to mention the bartender who supposedly
made the first Negroni, Fosco Scarselli.
Mr. Leggett, aka the Drinking Cup, (which has an exhaustive history of the drink) has further identified that the popular image of a man in a top hat with a handle bar moustache, used by many Negroni brands is not even Count Camillo but in fact Arnold Henry Savage Landor, painter, explorer, and anthropologist.
Sadly, Mr. Leggett found no evidence of Count Camillo’s time spent as a cowboy, riverboat gambler or rodeo clown. He did however find documentation in a NYC business directory dating from 1902 of Count Camillo Negroni as a professor of fencing. Not quite as flamboyant as a rodeo clown but still spectacularly posh . While the history of the cocktail is complicated- making it couldn’t be easier.
Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth. Lemon twist or orange slice.
1 oz. Gin
1/2 oz. Campari
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
Pour the above ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Pour over ice into a double old fashioned glass and garnish with a lemon twist, orange slice or even a lime if you're daring.
The No-groni- a refreshing non- alcoholic version of the Negroni
1 oz. Seedlip Spice
1/2 oz. Walnut Bitters
1/2 oz Orange Bitters
Mix ingredients in a mixing glass and pour over an old fashioned or wine glass filled with ice and garnish with lemon twist or orange slice.
Thirsty for more? Enjoy your Negroni while reading about the convoluted history of the enigmatic Casa Malaparte here.
1.The Drinking Cup, Ben Leggett