When Nole and I put together these cocktail posts, there’s a process: I make the cocktail the night before, she photographs it the next day, and then I get to drink it that evening. And do you know what happens in that day between making and drinking the cocktail? It gets better. A lot better. Letting a cocktail age, even for a day, produces a more mellow and better integrated drink. So here’s an aged Negroni, that simple but memorable summer cocktail.– Andrew
Illustration by Tuesday Bassen for Oh So Beautiful Paper
1 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Combine everything with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass filled with more ice – it’s a summer cocktail, after all – and garnish with an orange twist. Enjoy!
To age our Negroni, we mixed up a batch sans ice and left it to sit in a glass jar for about a week. It’s that simple! When you’re ready to drink one, just pour over ice, stir, strain, and garnish.
The Negroni is simple but packs a punch. One of Italy’s few native cocktails, the Negroni dates back to 1919, when Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender at Caffè Casoni to punch up his Americano – an older, milder drink of Campari, vermouth, and club soda – with gin. The gin’s botanicals, the Campari’s bitterness, and the vermouth’s sweet herbal flavors make for a drink that is enormously flavorful but also sharply bittersweet. It’s not for everyone (Nole won’t touch them), but it’s a great drink for a hot summer afternoon.
A freshly made Negroni is great, but if you can wait, it’s worth it. Aging a drink like the Negroni allows all of its individual flavors to merge into a drink that’s smoother, a more cohesive whole than one you down right after making. The difference can be subtle but it’s always noticeable; aging can calm many a cocktail’s riot of flavors.
Aging works particularly well for drinks like the Negroni or Manhattan or Martinez that combine a spirit with vermouth, or drinks like last week’s Corsican that combine a spirit with liqueurs. I haven’t tried it, but I bet it would work really well with shrubs too. All you need is a little patience and a non-reactive container. I’ve seen more advanced home mixologists include wood chips with their aging cocktails, or even barrel-age their cocktails at home to impart the same rich flavors that barrel-aged spirits have. So consider playing around with some of the conditions: how long you age, what sort of container you use, that sort of thing. And report back the results of your experiments!
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper