The classic Negroni is hard to go past. Sweet with a bitter edge, strong but wholly drinkable; the mix of gin, Campari and sweet red vermouth is on every good bar’s menu.

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 along with Campari. This year Campari has brought the initiative to Australia, putting 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 also donate $5000 to the most successful venue’s charity of choice.

This year, bars across Melbourne will help us us feel charitable 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 says the GI Cancer foundation is important and deserving of their cocktail coin.

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.

That charity is the Fight Cancer Foundation, an organisation with a personal connection to Carlei’s family, “My old man had cancer. 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.

In the CBD, Fancy Hanks BBQ is getting involved with a secret-recipe white-chocolate Negroni as is Misty Bar, Gin Palace and Nieuw Amsterdam.

Rounding off the list is Matteo’s, Jungle Boy and The Rooks Return. Your Negroni pilgrimage starts June 1. Drink responsibly and don’t forget to take a taxi.

1806
169 Exhibition Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Cancer Council Victoria

Copperhead Road
75 Burwood Road
Hawthorn, VIC
Supporting Bowel Cancer Australia

Epocha
49 Rathdowne Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Oxfam Australia’s Nepal Earthquake Relief Appeal

Fancy Hank’s BBQ Joint
456 Queen Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Beyond Blue

Gin Palace
10 Russell Place
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Diabetes Australia

Grossi Florentino Cellarbar
80 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Whitelion

Merchant Osteria Veneta
Shop 2, Rialto 495 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting White Lion

Misty Bar
3-5 Hoiser Lane
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Movember

Nieuw Amsterdam
106-112 Hardware Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Australian Red Cross Nepal Region Earthquake Appeal

Ombra Salumi Bar
76 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Whitelion

Port of Call
213 Franklin Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting WWF Global

Society Restaurant
23 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting DOXA Youth Foundation

The Brass Coq
470 Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne, VIC
Supporting Kids with Cancer Foundation Australia Limited

The Rooks Return
201 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy, VIC
Supporting the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

The Rum Diary Bar
334 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy, VIC
Supporting YSAS Youth Accommodation and Drug Rehabilitation

This article is presented by Negroni Week.

Visit negroniweek.com for more information and a full list of participating venues.