Summer is approaching and, although some social distancing will still be necessary, the Italians will re-start one of their most pleasant traditions: the “Aperitivo”. It is tipically Italian, although it is nowadays pretty common in several Countries around the world, especially in the Mediterranean sea. It’s a simple way to spare some time with our dearest friends, our work mates, our families, sharing a drink and some snacks before having lunch or dinner.
Based on the official Encyclopedia of the Italian Language, called “Treccani”, the aperitivo is an alcoholic drink (but also non alcoholic) aimed at stimulating appetite and favouring digestion. Most of the traditional drinks used to make an “aperitivo” cocktail are based on aromatic wines (wine flavoured with a mix of natural herbs) with an alcoholic volume spanning between 16 and 21%, the most popular of which is for sure Vermouth.
Several aperitivo cocktails involve the use of vermouth, including the one I am giving you today which is one of the most consumed and among the strongest: Negroni.
The origin of Negroni roots back to 1917 when a gentleman from Florence, called Camillo Negroni was used to ask the barman, at Caffè Casoni, to make his Americano Cocktail a little stronger. The barman, named Fosco Scarselli decided to add some Gin. Other patrons wanted the same drink and since they didn’t know exactly what it was they started asking the barman for a “Negroni”. In some cases, to ease the pronunciation for native English speakers, you can find it in the menus as “Negrone”.
The recipe is very simple but you must respect strict proportions otherwise the cocktail doesn’t come as good as it should be and you might get a bit tipsy.
The proportion of each ingredient is 1/3
- 1/3 of Gin (3 cl)
- 1/3 of Vermouth Rosso (3 cl)
- 1/3 of Bitter Campari
- 1 Slice of orange to decorate
Fill a shaker with ice cubes up to 3/4, add Gin, Vermouth Rosso and Campari Bitter and shake mildly. Filter the cocktail into a low Tumbler or Old Fashioned glass. If you like let a couple of ice cube to fall into the glass. Add the slice of orange and…drink it.
Aperitivo Cocktails are usually served with come canapé, chips and peanuts although recently several bars started adding salami, diced cheese, focaccia strips and other snacks. When I invite friends for dinner and I want to serve something with the Negroni I do usually prepare some quick savoury snacks by wrapping sausage pieces or anchovies or peppers with puff pastry and bake them for few minutes. It’s easy and you cut a fine figure.
In Northern Italy the aperitivo is sometimes so rich that we skip dinner in the end. Instead of some snacks, sometimes we do arrange small buffet with some host plates also such as some pasta, salads, roasted vegetables, Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, pizza and more…
Now prepare your Negroni, sit on your armchair and start sipping it with your friends. Have a nice talk, enjoy your first Italian Aperitivo and remember to drink responsibly.