How to make a perfect Negroni, according to a cocktail expert

A classic Negroni over ice

A classic Negroni has equal parts gin, Campari and vermouth

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If you keep track of food and beverage news, you may have heard that European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald has collaborated with a Florida restaurant to create a golf-themed cocktail: Luke’s PARfect Negroni, a kitschy name for a classic drink.

Donald’s version, which includes a trace of paw paw fruit for a tropical twist, doesn’t sound half bad. But it’s not the way I make a Negroni. I go with a more traditional recipe, which calls for equal parts dry gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Chilled in a glass that has been stirred with ice, and then strained into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and garnished with an orange slice—that’s my idea of perfect. It’s simple, too. Just follow the tips below.

Use the right gin

You want a London dry. Beefeater is classic, Monkey 47 is more complex, and Bombay Sapphire is many of those who do imbibe favorites as well. They are all fantastic and will be wonderful in a Negroni. Tanqueray No. Ten is my go-to. I has the right balance of juniper and aromatics with a good punch.

Keep to Campari 

There’s really no substitute. Created in 1860 by Gaspare Campari, Campari is a distinctive bitters of Italian origin, and it gives a Negroni its characteristic bite.

Find the best vermouth

There are many great red vermouths that you can use in this cocktail. My preference lies with Carpano Antica. It’s a little pricey, but it has great backbone with vanilla notes. It’s very distinguished and definitely appropriate.

Don’t water down your work

Not all ice cubes are created equal. For starters, use good drinking water. Cubes made from spring water are best. Also, make sure it’s fresh. Ice left in the freezer for weeks takes on odors. It needs to be rotated out. 

The fifth element

Your glassware is important to the cocktail. You should be excited about using it. It should feel good in the hand. Your rocks glass should be wide enough that you can nose (smell) your libation while sipping it. Having a well-made classic cocktail is an experience. Put some thought into your barware and treat yourself by using quality tools.

The Perfect Negroni 

1 1/2 ounce Tanqueray Nº Ten Gin 

1 1/2 ounce Campari 

1 1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth-Campano Antica Formula 

Mix all three in a mixing glass with ice and stir with a bar spoon for a 20-count. Strain over a large cube and a rock glass with a Hawthorne strainer. Garnish with an orange slice or an orange peel that has been expressed and twisted over the cocktail. 

Shaun Lewis, a classic trained chef and cocktail master, is general manager at Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, on Long Island.

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