Negroni

An aperitif is a before-dinner drink that stimulates the appetite—usually it’s something light with a bitter or herbal flavor. But that doesn’t mean you have to drink them before a meal. One of the most well known (and loved) aperitif cocktails is the Negroni, and they’re as popular before dinner as they are late in the evening. This is a drink that had to grow on me, but once it did, I couldn’t get enough of it’s bold flavor. One Negroni leads to more. Also, there are a lot of fun twists on the Negroni … I’ll have to share a few soon!

Negroni
1 ounce London dry gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth

Fill and old fashioned glass with ice and then pour in each ingredient and stir. Garnish with an orange slice or twist.

Negroni photo by Kenn Wilson

In a seminar about the history of the Negroni a few years ago at Tales of the Cocktail, I liked this old Campari ad they showed that acknowledged just how much of an acquired tasted Campari is:

Low-Alcohol Cocktails

Brewed Mary from the Beeroness

I try not to get too wrapped up in staying on top of the latest cocktail trends. Sure, I enjoyed a few barrel aged cocktails and Negronis on tap last year, but for the most part I do and drink what I like. A lot of trends disappear as fast as they came, but I think the low-alcohol cocktail trend is going to stick around.

While some people see cocktails as a route to gettin’ drunk, many others simply want to enjoy a few without too much of a buzz. Aperitifs are still popular, so it just makes sense that they would be used as the base of lower-octane drinks. Also, these kinds of cocktails pair better with meals and involve less sugar in addition to a lower alcohol content. Beer and wine are most people’s first choice, so why not get creative and mix with them?

Whatever your reason, here are some drinks on the lower side of the alcohol scale.

Sweet Basil ~ Lillet Blanc, a light and lovely aperitif, is the star of this cocktail, with just a half-ounce of gin present to round out the drink. And of course, lots of basil!

Chrysanthemum ~ Dry vermouth isn’t just for Martinis. Mix it with a little Benedictine and a few drops of absinthe, and you have complex little cocktail without a high-proof spirit.

Girovita ~ Aperol and apricot liqueur join forces with Pimm’s No. 1, for a fresh tasting and refreshing drink.

Black Cup ~ Another Pimm’s-Cup-inspired cocktail, this one uses port as the base and includes the original’s signature effervescence.

Brewed Mary ~ A Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka … enough said!