Michael's favorite cocktail, the Negroni. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I actually hadn’t heard of a Negroni until Bourdain ordered one after an event we did at the 92nd Street Y. It wasn’t like him to be order a girly drink, I thought, when the server arrived with a pinkish, on-the-rocks concoction, so I took note.

It would become one of my favorite cocktails, and I like it both on the rocks and up. It’s a simple but complex elixir originally created in Italy, comprising equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. I prefer Hendrick’s gin for this but am not sure why—probably because of the cool bottle.

Any decent gin will do. The VTR likes to flame orange zest oil over the drink. I prefer an actual squeeze of orange, its citrusy sweetness offsetting the bitter Campari. Some people suggest some orange bitters.

All to your taste. A classic Negroni is equal parts, garnished with orange zest.

The recipe below is for an enhanced Negroni, with a little more gin, because I find, straight up, it’s a little on the syrupy side for me. On the rocks, equal parts is just right, as the ice melts.

Happy Friday all!


The Enhanced Negroni

  • 40 grams/1.5 ounces gin
  • 30 grams/1 ounce Campari
  • 30 grams/1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 thin orange wedge or orange zest
  1. In a 2-cup measuring glass, combine the gin, Campari, and vermouth.
  2. Fill the measuring glass with ice and stir more or less continuously for 90 seconds. It’s fine to pause while you retrieve your glass from freezer, and ready the orange.
  3. When the ice and alcohol have commingled for the appropriate time, strain it into the glass, and garnish it with the orange wedge. This is excellent over ice as well


If you liked this post on the Negroni, check out these other links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


31 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: The Negroni”

  • Craig

    Have you tried The Botanist gin yet? It packs a pretty powerful, herbal punch.

  • Hugh

    Great cocktail formula for easy riffing. Try swapping the gin for just about any other liquor and you are almost guaranteed a tasty drink. It’s also fun to play with the vermouth and Campari components. A popular variation called the Trident shows just how far one can take the Negroni formula, using aquavit for the liquor, dry sherry for the vermouth, and Cynar for the bitter, along with 2 dashes of peach bitters.

  • Ivan

    The Negroni is my favorite cocktail. I’ve found that the gin and the vermouth you use make a difference. I really like the combination of Hendricks Gin, Antica Formula Vermouth and Campari. It is a little less sweet. The Antica Formula is, by far, the best sweet vermouth available and really makes the cocktail.

  • Jeff

    Oh the disappointment Ruhlman… “strain the martini into the glass…”, Martini? Really? Surely that is some kind of typo as I think we’ve covered that particular topic perviously, haven’t we? Aside from that, I’ve never had a Negroni, sounds wonderful.

    • Michael Ruhlman

      Sorry, was having wordpress issues today. Emilia was supposed to look that over instead of just cutting and pasting from the martini post! Thanks for the heads up.

  • Kathryn

    My favourite cocktail, hands down. We make them with blood oranges, and always Hendrick’s Gin – so good!

  • Jake Anderson

    Glad to see you took my twitter advice, or that this is an awesome coincidence. Either way, I look forward to trying this “enhanced” version of one of my favorite cocktails ( I have always made them equal parts and on the rocks). Friday cocktail hour is becoming one of my favorite things on the internet.

  • Kristen England

    I’ve tried Hendricks with my Negroni’s and it always seems to get beat up by the Campari. Citadelle gin, on the other hand, is recockulously great. San Francisco World Spirits Competition Award Double Gold and Wine Enthusiasts Scored 100. All for $20!

    • allen

      Try the new Voyager gin from Washington state, I can easily pick it out over a blind taste test with Citadelle, not so much of the anise flavor as Citadelle, has a nice hint of orange and subtle hint of cardamom , it is not quite as spicy as Citadelle, but very nice for a gin and the double gold medal winner at San Francisco world spirits competition, if you like Citadelle , you will more than likely enjoy Voyager even more.

  • Allen

    Oh hell to the yes. Your skinny friend has good taste. This is the perfect drink to try different vermouths with. Cinzano is light and Punt E Mes is more bitter, and Carpano is in between. And then play with the bitters.
    I love Fernet Branca, the first sip tasted like the stuff they give you right before a novacane shot, but it just gets more appealing after that. Bartender geeks like to add a micro shot. I’m up to drinking straight shots of the stuff..
    The great thing about the Negroni is that it’s both a digestif and appertif, perfect before a meal and after , the bitters aiding digestion. That great Canadian bartender Gerry Jobe has a recipe with out Campari that is very good, using Punt E Mes and Averno.
    The floral gins are masked in the bitters, I like the traditional London dry.
    In fact I just love the traditional Negroni, in a nice cold ice filled low ball glass with an orange slice and a few dashes of bitters.
    Another great feature is you can mix it right in the glass, just fill with ice add ingredients ( equal parts, so frign easy!), and stir.
    And the flamed orange peel adds the oils to the top, traditional is always good too ( thank you VTR!)
    What a great post to wake up to (3rd shift), i need to get my ass out of bed so I can start the festivus. Ja Ruhl you rule!
    And of course cheers and happy Friday to all!

  • Karen K

    I had my first Negroni at Fig in Charleston (they have many variations on their menu, I had the traditional) while on vacation and immediately came home and purchased Campari. I’ve even made it with Dubonnet in place of the vermouth. I, too, like a squeeze of orange.

  • Marcia Anderson

    Cheers to using Antica Formula Vermouth and the squeeze of orange! Makes all the difference. But may I also suggest swapping out the gin with prosecco for a super refreshing summer cocktail…aka Negroni sbagliato or, ‘bungled Negroni’!

  • Victoria

    I started drinking Negronis after reading Blood, Bones, and Butter. It sounded delicious – and it is. I use the Antica vermouth, but since Plymouth is my gin, that’s what I have always used. I will have to give some of the other choices mentioned above a try. And I’ve never thought of having one on the rocks, so I’ll try that too. I’ve also never thought of having one AFTER dinner as a digestif. Good idea.

    I agree with Jake. Friday Night Cocktail Hour is something I look forward to reading each week. Maybe you could do a link to an index on the side so we can check them out at will.

    I remember a long-ago post on the Aviation, but I’m trying to remember if you’ve tackled a Sidecar yet. Will have to go check.

  • Lisa

    love Negroni on the rocks with an orange slice but good gin is important. We like Boodles but Hendricks if the bar has it is great too.

  • allen

    I prefer cheap ginny gin London extra dry (9.99 1.75 ltr) for this, anything ginny, and a thick orange slice that you can eat afterwords like sangria fruit.
    It’s the vermouth and bitters that I get uppity with. I just bought a small bottle of Vya and have not tried it yet in this drink but will be trying it tonight. Last night it went in a Manhattan and I think it killed the nice flavor of the vermouth, which is very good tasting vermouth.
    Since it’s mothers day weekend I have to get approval from the wife, and last night she called for a Manhattan, so we’ll see if it fly’s tonight.
    Remember to raise a glass to your moms this weekend. Salute!

  • Victor

    I too am a big fan of the Negroni. I also wholeheartedly agree that the balance is a little off at equal parts. Campari is very aggressive, and tends to take over. I use Citadelle gin, and Dolin Vermouth most frequently. Add a dash of rhubarb bitters with your orange.

    I’ve also become a huge fan of a Negroni variation made with bourbon. It’s a great excuse to play with sweeter and stronger vermouth variations like Punt E Mes, and Carpano Antica, which I do not favor in the classic gin drink. It’s also a great place to add a few dashes of chocolate bitters… Yum.

  • Ellen

    I had a delicious Negroni made by a bartender who substituted lemon for the orange. He zested the lemon into the drink, and that made the critical difference. Negroni is one of my favorite drinks, and this variation was superb.

  • Phillip

    I find that Gilbeys Gin works just fine in a Negroni (the price point is hard to beat), also I tend to sub out Aperol for Campari and I use a bit more gin. I think it is the perfect cocktail.

  • Amy | Minimally Invasive

    I play around with the ingredients every now and then, but lately my favorite thing is just to top off my Negroni with some club soda. It’s the perfect drink for the warmer weather we’re finally seeing here in the northeast!

  • eas

    It’s one of the best gateway cocktails. Quality vermouth makes all the difference, whether Dolin, Cocchi or Carpano, all now available in Ruhlman’s home state and all surrounding. Try cutting the campari with other amari to great and crowd pleasing effect.

  • ride&cook

    Here’s another vote for The Botanist — very smooth and complex. My husband’s favorite cocktail is a Negroni. We’ll have to try the rhubarb bitters.

  • scott

    try a variation of 2-3 parts Aperol, 1 part gin and 1 part lime juice. shake or chill with ice and serve “up” in martini glass. Its a bit less bitter and delicious

  • Gerry Jobe

    Ah, “Bartender’s Cornflakes” as I like to call it. By far my favorite mid-morning-just-got-to-the-hotel-waiting-at-the-bar-to-check-in cocktail! Great read! Cheers!

  • Peter - The Roaming GastroGnome

    Just catching up here and I see someone already recommended The Botanist gin. It’s great! A Negroni is one of my all time favorite summertime cocktails. Packs quite a punch! No more than two needed.


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