YOU can’t help but fall in love with Negroni while listening to Campari Brand Ambassador Daniele Pirotta talk about the classic Italian cocktail. Originally hailing from Florence himself, and with Negroni practically flowing through his veins, there wasn’t a more suited host for this year’s Negroni MasterClass.
Presented by Independent Wine & Spirit (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (IWS), the trade-focused educational and bartending class was held at the Marriott Bangkok Sukhumvit Hotel. Led by Daniele along with two highly acclaimed barmen, Michele Montauti from MIKYS Cocktail Bar and Hideyuki Saito from Bronx Liquid Parlour, the masterclass aimed to help bartenders rediscover the classic Negroni while also taking an in-depth look at current trends in mixology, notably the aged cocktail revolution.
Sparing no detail, the trio focused on the Negroni’s history and development, from its invention in Florence in 1919 by Count Negroni to its current popularity as a classic cocktail as well as its modern variants, including the ‘Negroni barrel-ageing’.
The Negroni is born
And thus the aromatic and dangerously alcoholic Negroni was born. Since then Italians have adopted the much-loved drink as both an appetite-building pre-dinner apéritif, and a palate-cleansing digestif.
Almost a century since its birth and the classic cocktail has rarely been tampered with. From Florence to New York, and from London to Bangkok, the Negroni can now be found in hip pubs and cocktail bars across the world. Whole Negroni menus are emerging, and if they’re really good, they’ll have a barrel-aged variety too.
Barrel ageing not only smoothens out the Negroni, but also softens the mouth feel.
In basic terms, mixologists put Negroni in a barrel and wait. The alcohol extracts colour and flavour from the wood over time. As it oxidises (creating the distinct nutty flavours you know and love) the wood reacts with the cocktail creating sugars the give the drink its softness and help integrate the different elements. Mixologists will taste the Negroni every couple of weeks and empty the barrel when it tastes just right.
Once ready, the aged Negroni is decanted and stored in a refrigerator to slow down the oxidation process. Then served on
the rocks and garnished with an orange peel – just how the Count would like it.
With equal parts of bitter Campari, aromatic gin, and sweet vermouth, a Negroni is considered both an aperitivo (or apéritif) and a digestif. “Ask for a Negroni and you’ve given the password to a bartender for the perfect anytime cocktail”, says Michele.
Although the classic cocktail has long been popular in the West, it’s only over recent years that the Negroni has grown in popularity among discerning drink lovers in Thailand and particularly in Bangkok.
“The drinking culture in Bangkok is growing,” says Daniele. “This new love for classic cocktails is not a fad; Bangkok is currently rediscovering craft drinks and speakeasy bars, and with some of the best bartenders in the world here this is the best city to see growth.”
As for the aformentioned barrel-aged cocktails, they too are being rediscovered.
Barrel-ageing not only matures the Negroni, but brings out intense flavours of vanilla, caramel, and oak, explains Hideyuki.
While there are do’s and don’ts to barrel-ageing, there are no set rules or guidelines. The ageing process is dependent on both the wood and the size of the barrel; the higher the wood to liquid contact ratio, the quicker the ageing process.
Although it may sound simple, it’s best to leave this craft to the professionals as only taste can tell when the aged Negroni is ready to be served.
Aged Negronis are available in cocktail bars across Bangkok. Be sure to ask bartenders about this aged cocktail and try it for yourself!
For more information about the classic cocktail and its aged counterpart visit iwsthailand.com