Classic Negroni

Bittersweet, robust and sophisticated, the classic Negroni cocktail recipe is one to know. With just three ingredients — gin, sweet vermouth and Campari — this ruby red drink is easy to put together. Once you’re comfortable, it’s a great drink to riff on and experiment with.

A Classic Negroni cocktail served in a glass.

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Classic Negroni cocktail recipe

The Negroni is without a doubt one of the most classic cocktails.

Bitter and slightly sweet, the negroni is typically made with herbal gin, sweet vermouth and an Italian liqueur called Campari.

Campari brings a bitter flavor and gives this drink its deep, rutilant hue.

Whether you’ve never tried a negroni or it’s already your favorite cocktail, you’ll love how easy this drink is to make at home. It’s a recipe you can memorize and build upon with just three ingredients.

Let’s get started making this easy and delicious classic cocktail!

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A glass with a Classic Negroni and orange peels.

Why you’ll love this recipe

You are going to adore this classic negroni recipe!

  • If you’re a fan of bitter flavors, you will love this cocktail.
  • With just three ingredients, it’s easy to put together.
  • The negroni is a classic that every home bartender should know.

Once you’ve tried this recipe, you’ll be ready to assemble perfect negronis for happy hour at home, dinner parties and nightcaps.

What is a Negroni?

The Negroni is a classic cocktail made with gin, Campari and sweet vermouth.

Campari is an Italian bitter liqueur. It’s a type of apéritif and it’s what gives this herbal cocktail a deep, bitter undertone and bright red hue.

Gin lends its herbal essence, and sweet vermouth brings the sweet in bittersweet. Garnished with a piece of orange zest, this robust drink can be served neat or on the rocks.

A Classic Negroni with ice in it.

History of the Negroni cocktail

According to Campari, the history of the Negroni dates back to 1919, when Fosco Scarselli created the first Negroni drink at his bar Caffé Casoni in Florence, Italy.

Count Camillo Negroni asked Scarselli to make his favorite drink, the Americano cocktail, even more potent by replacing the club soda water with bit of gin.

The bartender also garnished Count Negroni’s drink with an orange slice, rather than the American’s traditional lemon twist.

Ever since, this classic Italian drink has become beloved at bars around the world. Today it is typically made with equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth.

Negroni week

Every September, Imbibe Magazine and the Campari brand co-host a charitable event called Negroni Week

During Negroni Week, bars partner with the magazine to advertise the Campari drink. For every drink sold, a portion of the proceeds is given to charity.

Negroni lovers can visit participating bars and restaurants to celebrate this classic drink and give back to the community.

The next Negroni Week will be held Sept. 16 to 22, 2024. This year, the cause is Slow Food.

A classic Negroni cocktail served on a marble table.

Tools & glassware

Here’s what you’ll need to make this classic Italian cocktail recipe:

Negronis should be stirred, not shaken. You’ll need a mixing glass and a bar spoon, as well as a jigger to measure the ingredients. A vegetable peeler or sharp knife will help you get the perfect piece of orange zest.

Some negronis are served on the rocks in a rocks glass, while others are served neat, often in a stemmed glass like a Nick & Nora glass. If served neat, it’s imperative they are stirred with ice to chill the ingredients.

You’ll also want to plan ahead and make some large ice cubes or large ice spheres. These melt more slowly, letting your drink stay stronger for longer.

Ingredients

The negroni has three ingredients, usually measured in equal parts of one ounce each:

  • herbal gin
  • bitter Italian liqueur such as Campari
  • sweet vermouth
  • a piece of orange zest or an orange slice

Some negronis are served on the rocks in a rocks glass — so you’ll also need to make some ice.

Big cubes of clear ice are classic for negronis. They are great for old-fashioneds too.

The Negroni can also be served neat, usually in a stemmed glass like a Nick & Nora glass. If served neat, it’s imperative they are stirred with ice to chill the ingredients.

Two glasses of a Classic Negroni with a gold garnish.

Best gin for Negronis

Every brand of this herbal spirit has a different flavor profile. If you have a favorite, that’s a great place to start.

A London Dry gin, such as Beefeater, Monkey 47 or Hendrick’s, will work well. Plymouth Gin is also an excellent choice.

Check out Gin 101 for a crash course on this spirit, the top brands to buy and what else you can make with it.

Bitter liqueurs for Negronis

Traditionally, the Negroni is made with Campari, a brand of bitter Italian liqueur with a deep red hue. It’s what’s called an apéritif, which means it’s typically enjoyed before a meal and is said to prepare the stomach for food.

The flavor of Campari is very, very bitter, so if you prefer something lighter, you can use another red bitter such as Aperol. Known for its role in the Aperol Spritz, this spirit is a sweeter and less bitter alternative to Campari.

Changing out the Campari in the Negroni is a great way to experiment with different flavor profiles. The folks at VinePair put together a list of more Campari alternatives you can try, including:

  • Luxardo Bitter
  • Martini & Rossi Riserva Speciale Bitter Liqueur
  • Contratto Bitter

Sweet vermouth

Sweet vermouth is sweet and red, regardless of its country of origin. It’s also known as Italian vermouth, red vermouth or vermouth rosso.

To keep this a truly Italian cocktail, go for an Italian sweet vermouth such as Carpano Antica, Cinzano Bianco, Carpano Punt E Mes or Cocchi Rosa.

Vermouth can go bad, so store open bottles in the fridge for up to a month.

How to store vermouth

An opened bottle of vermouth should be stored in the fridge. It will taste best if enjoyed within a month, but will still taste okay for about two months total. After that, it’s time to toss it and open a new bottle of vermouth.

Two glasses of negroni sbagliato with red liquid and a gold spoon.
Negroni Sbagliato

Variations and substitutions

Mix up your classic Negroni cocktail recipe with one of these variations:

Americano: This is what the Negroni is based on! Use Campari, sweet vermouth and soda water.

Negroni Sbagliato: This bubbly spin on the negroni swaps gin for the Italian sparkling wine known as prosecco.

White Negroni: The White Negroni is a spin on the regular Negroni, which is red in color. This one is clear or slightly yellowish and is made with a clear bitter liqueur (usually Suze), clear dry vermouth and clear gin.

Boulevardier: If you prefer bourbon drinks, replace the gin with your favorite whiskey to make a Boulevardier!

All are acceptable ways to drink a negroni. Cheers!

How to make a Negroni

Here’s how to make a great Negroni at home:

A person pouring Campari into a mixing glass.
A person pouring a sweet vermouth into a mixing glass.

In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine equal parts gin, Campari and dry vermouth.

A person stirring contents of a mixing glass.

Gently, use a bar spoon to stir the mixture until well-chilled.

A person pouring a Classic Negroni into a glass.
A person holding a classic Negroni cocktail.

Strain into an old-fashioned glass with a large ice cube. You can also serve it neat in a Nick & Nora glass.

Garnish it with a piece of orange peel, giving it a gentle twist to release the orange essential oils.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this Negroni cocktail recipe:

  • Experiment with different combinations of bitter liqueurs and gins to find your ultimate Negroni.
  • Always store your open bottles of vermouth in the fridge. (This goes for dry vermouth too.) They’ll last for about 1-2 months after opening them if stored in the fridge.
  • Don’t shake the cocktail. Prepare it in a mixing glass, using a bar spoon to stir the ingredients with ice cubes.
A Classic Negroni in a glass.

What to serve with Negronis

Negronis are made with gin, dry vermouth and bitter liqueurs, which are all apéritifs.

Apéritifs are liqueurs most often enjoyed before a meal, to whet the appetite. (Bitter liqueurs are also sometimes enjoyed as digestifs, which are enjoyed after a meal to aid digestion.)

That said, the Negroni cocktail recipe will go well with appetizers and canapés, especially Italian ones.

Enjoy your Negroni with Italian treats like Caprese skewers, Tuscan white bean dip or a platter of bruschetta or crostini.

A Classic Negroni cocktail with a red drink and orange peel.

FAQ

What is a Negroni?

The Negroni is a classic cocktail from Italy made with gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. It has a dry, bittersweet and herbal flavor.

What does a Negroni taste like?

The Negroni is an herbal, bittersweet drink. The bitter flavor is thanks to the addition of Campari, a bitter red liqueur from Italy. Gin provides herbal undertones, and sweet vermouth gives a hint of sweetness.

Can you make a Negroni without Campari?

Campari is the most ubiquitous bitter red liqueur, but it’s also the classic one used in the Negroni. However, you can certainly substitute other red bitter liqueurs, such as Aperol, Luxardo Bitter, Martini & Rossi Riserva Speciale Bitter Liqueur or Contratto Bitter.

More classic cocktails

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A Classic Negroni with ice in it.

Classic Negroni

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Learn to make a classic Negroni cocktail with just three ingredients. This bitter beauty is a beverage worth knowing.
5 from 46 votes
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ingredients

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 piece orange zest for garnish

instructions

  • In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine gin, Campari and sweet vermouth.
  • Use a bar spoon to gently stir the mixture until chilled.
  • Strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, or enjoy neat (without ice).
  • Garnish with a piece of orange zest.

notes

Here are some tips and tricks for making this cocktail:
  • Experiment with different combinations of bitter liqueurs and gins to find your ultimate Negroni.
  • Always store your open bottles of vermouth in the fridge. (This goes for dry vermouth too.) They’ll last for about 1-2 months after opening them if stored in the fridge.
  • Don’t shake the cocktail. Prepare it in a mixing glass, using a bar spoon to stir the ingredients with ice cubes.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 3ounces Calories: 164kcal Carbohydrates: 8g Protein: 0.02g Sodium: 2mg Potassium: 21mg Sugar: 0.3g Calcium: 3mg Iron: 0.1mg
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