In 1919 a man named Camillo Negroni entered Caffè Casoni, a popular bar in the upper-class side of central Florence, looking for extra strength in his Americano. His idea, as relayed to the bartender, was to add gin rather than soda water to the Americano’s usual Campari and vermouth mix. The bartender agreed and added his own flourish, a garnish of orange rather than lemon.

Having quickly become a favourite Sunday afternoon drink in Italy, the Negroni has recently found a foothold as one of the most popular cocktails in Australian bars and restaurants. Andrea Gualdi is the head bartender at Surry Hills pizzeria and bar Maybe Frank, and was recently named World Class Australian Bartender of the Year. He is an expert in the Negroni trade.

Gualdi was born in Italy and grew up in the small northern town of Bergamo. “My first sip of Negroni came with my mother,” he remembers. “It was a sunny afternoon in Italy. She used to take me to the same bar every Sunday for a late lunch.” That was aperitivo time, explains Gualdi, when ordering a single drink gives you access to a smorgasbord of snacks. “It was the favourite part of my week because I was getting all the food from the buffet and spending time with her,” he says. “Like most of the Italians there at that time, she didn't even know the word cocktail. She just knew that on Sunday we drink Negroni.”

Gualdi says many Italian bars have been making the same version of the drink for decades. “Most of the bars in Italy are deeply in love with the classic recipe,” says Gualdi. “It’s an iconic Italian drink."

But the bartender sees a new school emerging that is toying with the traditional cocktail. “Nowadays, we have some cool cocktail bars that are taking this cocktail to another level,” says Gualdi. For him that means celebrating his memories of the drink, but using new skills and experience to offer something different.

Here’s Gualdi’s ideas for how you can do the same at home.

La Teresina

Makes one serve. Approximately 1.4 standard drinks.

“Tequila is my favourite spirit, so this is the twist [I do on a] Negroni after a long shift at work,” says Gualdi. “It’s a very fresh version of the classic. The Cocchi Rosa (an aperitif wine) gives a very floral note to the drink and the Don Julio is very sharp and clean, which works with it perfectly.”

Ingredients:
25ml Don Julio Blanco
25ml Cocchi Rosa
25ml vermouth bianco
1 grapefruit
Ice

Method:
Combine all liquids in an Old Fashioned glass with a big cube of ice and stir. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit peel.

The Brunch Club

Makes one serve. Approximately 1.4 standard drinks.

A fruiter, sweet twist on a classic Negroni, Gauldi says this is “perfect for a sunny day or afternoon brunch”.

Ingredients:
30ml Ketel One vodka
25ml Campari
20ml fresh lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
4 fresh raspberries

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into a champagne flute. Garnish with seasonal edible flowers.

Travelling Without Moving

Makes one serve. Approximately 1.7 standard drinks.

A twist on the original recipe, Gualdi suggests this as an ideal creation for those looking to batch or bottle for picnics, parties or later occasions.

Ingredients:
30ml Tanqueray gin
15ml Campari
15ml Aperol
30ml vermouth rosso
20ml water
2.5ml rooibos tea

Method:
Place all ingredients in a container and let it rest for an hour or two out of the fridge so the flavours can infuse. Strain and pour into a bottle. “You can serve it on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass or a highball with some soda,” says Gualdi.

As an optional extra, Gauldi says to make more rooibos tea and leave for a couple of hours at room temperature. Then strain the tea and place the liquid in an atomizer. “Spray it on top just before serving it,” he says. “The perfume and flavours will transport you around the world.”

This article produced by Broadsheet in partnership with World Class. Drink responsibly.