My first experience with the negroni was on my honeymoon, long ago in 1999, in Riomaggiore, the southernmost town of the Cinque Terre in the Italian Riviera. The town is squashed in a precipitous, narrow valley that pours into the sea, like a confetti-colored shovel diving into the blue, and the main street is right in the middle, cutting the town in half, terracing downward. On this street, in a random bar, we asked the man behind the counter for an Italian cocktail. The man replied there was only one, and poured us each a negroni. It was the first of several that night, and countless since then. To this day it remains my favorite drink.
For years only a handful of bartenders knew what a negroni was, which stupefied me at first, and I was forced to order a Godfather, which like the movie was about as close to the Italian experience as you could get in America at the time. With the launch of Negroni Week in 2013 by none other than the Campari company itself, however, the ruddy libation was suddenly thrust into the zeitgeist, to the point that nowadays it seems like everyone has one in hand, which is perfectly fine by me.Continue reading