The Negroni is a classic for a reason. Sweet with a bitter edge, strong but wholly drinkable; the mix of gin, Campari and sweet red vermouth is a cocktail that's endlessly versatile while being perfect just as it is. Order one, and you'll have your bartender's full attention.
It’s said that the Italian Count Camillo Negroni discovered the drink in 1920 when he asked his bartender to strengthen his Americano by adding gin instead of soda water.
In 2013, Imbibe magazine launched Negroni Week with Campari. This year, Campari has brought the initiative to Australia, and has put the power of fundraising behind the bar. Participating venues will donate $1 from every Negroni sold over the seven days of the initiative to the charity of their choice. At the end of the week, Campari will contribute an extra $5,000 to the most successful venue’s charity of choice.
Bars across Melbourne are pitching in, but don’t expect a simple rehashing of the classic.
“We’re actually doing a Boulevardier,” says Ben Lancaster, bar manager of Carlton’s Longhorn Saloon. A cousin of the Negroni, the Boulevardier substitutes bourbon for gin, and is credited to Harry MacElhone – the original barman behind Paris’ world-famous Harry’s New York Bar.
“The Boulevardier actually predates the Negroni by 16 years, and people forget that. Because Longhorn Saloon is American-focused, and myself being American, I like to show it off,” says Lancaster, who will be serving a cocoa-nib-infused Wild Turkey, Cinzano Rosso and Campari, stirred down in equal parts. “It’s a lot less bitter, and has some wonderful caramel flavours coming through.”
As for their charity of choice, Lancaster is putting his coin toward the GI Cancer foundation.
Further north, Bar Nonno is taking the classic route with a twist. “We’ll be doing the classic recipe, but we’re also thinking of doing Negroni tasters, in mini wine glasses,” says manager David Carlei.
Nonno's charity is the Fight Cancer Foundation, an organisation with a personal connection to Carlei’s family, “My old man had cancer," he says. "They’ve supported us and we’ve supported them for a really long period of time.”
Over at Epocha, bartender Sophie Squires is softening the classic recipe with a bit more vermouth, and will also try out a Negroni with the bar’s house-made sloe gin. The venue is donating $2 from every Negroni to Oxfam’s Nepal Earthquake Relief.
Visit negroniweek.com for more information and a full list of participating venues.
169 Exhibition Street
Supporting Cancer Council Victoria
75 Burwood Road
Supporting Bowel Cancer Australia
49 Rathdowne Street
Supporting Oxfam Australia’s Nepal Earthquake Relief Appeal
Fancy Hank’s BBQ Joint
456 Queen Street
Supporting Beyond Blue
10 Russell Place
Supporting Diabetes Australia
Grossi Florentino Cellarbar
80 Bourke Street
Merchant Osteria Veneta
Shop 2, Rialto 495 Collins Street
Supporting White Lion
3-5 Hoiser Lane
106-112 Hardware Street
Supporting Australian Red Cross Nepal Region Earthquake Appeal
Ombra Salumi Bar
76 Bourke Street
Port of Call
213 Franklin Street
Supporting WWF Global
23 Bourke Street
Supporting DOXA Youth Foundation
The Brass Coq
470 Little Lonsdale Street
Supporting Kids with Cancer Foundation Australia Limited
The Rooks Return
201 Brunswick Street
Supporting the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
The Rum Diary Bar
334 Brunswick Street
Supporting YSAS Youth Accommodation and Drug Rehabilitation