Last week was international Negroni week and Negroni‘s are red. But we don’t like to colour inside the lines, do we? Nah, didn’t think so. So here we are with the White Negroni. If you’ve not already noticed there is something of a Negroni craze underway (our favourite restaurant has a Negroni menu FFS) and I’m having a bit of a problem with it. You see I’d love to get all indignant about it and tell you that only the original recipe (equal parts gin, Italian vermouth and Campari) is valid and that all these crazy impostor versions are just a silly fad. The problem is that many of them, although by no means all, are very, very good. For example the Mezcal Negroni (sub gin for good [no worm] mezcal) is, frankly Mr Shankly, simply mind blowing. Tinkering with the base spirit and type of vermouth is one thing but ditching the Campari is surely beyond the pale. And yet here we are. Something of a modern classic, the White Negroni even dares to replace the key ingredient with another bitter component and – mamma mia! – it’s not even Italian. Suze is a French bittersweet aperitif which I might hesitate to call an amaro but is certainly a close relative. Suze might be a bit one dimensional but, sacrebleu, what a dimension! The principal flavour is gentian, a powerful floral bittering agent found in many other amari but in this case it stands pretty much alone. Suze dials the gentian up to 11, tasting kind of like Lillet Blanc on steroids. Speaking of which, the White Negroni uses Lillet itself as the vermouth replacement and also brings along some citrus notes to boot. It’s a drink that really shouldn’t work but somehow does and still somehow manages to not, not be a Negroni. This white version has become quite widespread of late – perhaps due to the simple proportions and ease of production – and any cocktail bar worthy of the name should be able to whip one up for you. It seems to me that this upstart is here to stay. And very welcome it is too. For most of the year I’m very happy with my classic Negroni but in the heat of summer I’m inclined to go for its paler twin. At least for a couple of weeks.
Research indicates the White Negroni was created in 2001 by Wayne Collins to showcase Plymouth gin and French (rather than Italian) ingredients. Soon after it made its way to Audrey Sanders’ Pegu Club in New York via Plymouth brand ambasssador Simon Ford and thus into the heart of the nascent cocktail renaissance.
1.25oz gin (Plymouth if you have any).
1.25oz Lillet Blanc.
Stir with ice. Strain into a DOF glass containing one large block of clear ice.
Garnish with a slice of grapefruit or lemon peel.
Toast Wayne, Simon and Audrey; the chain that brought us the White Negroni.
Note that with the equal parts recipe you can go anywhere between and ounce and an ounce and a half of each. If you find it a bit too bitter try a 2:1:1 ratio which is often used.