All cocktails, especially the classics, are up for interpretation and they have been for centuries. Interpretation is what drives innovation in mixology. We wouldn’t have many of the cocktails we know and love today if bartenders toed the line of tradition.
The Negroni is a cocktail that invites experimentation more than most. Thanks to the simple mix of three ingredients, Campari, Vermouth and Gin, bartenders can’t help but flex the drink’s boundaries by subbing out and changing up the classic 1:1:1 ratio of spirits. Creating new cocktails such as the White Negroni and Negroni Sbagliato [a sparkling Negroni] in the process. Now, 100 years since the Negroni was invented, the drink has reached another stage in its evolution with the rise of the NOgroni, the world’s most famous non-alcoholic cocktail.
A non-alcoholic twist on the classic Negroni, the NOgroni was born in Seedlip Drinks’ founder Ben Branson’s garage. It debuted at The World’s Best Bar Awards in London in 2017 and has been a popular non-alcoholic listing in some of the best bars around the world ever since.
The NOgroni comes from an impressive lineage of cocktails, all born out of creativity and experimentation: The Negroni, of course, and its three predecessors, the Americano, the Milano-Torino and the Torino Milano.
The Americano was all the rage in the early years of the 20th century, both in Europe and in the US. It was an adaptation of a drink in Italy called the Milano-Torino, a mix of sweet Vermouth from Turin and a Milanese Campari. To make it an Americano, you simply add Club Soda. But, the Milano-Torino was a new interpretation of a Torino Milano, a cocktail made with equal parts Campari and an Italian bitter called Amaro Cora.
The Negroni was created in 1919, when a globe-trotting Italian count with a cowboy-persona walked into his favourite bar in Florence, Caffé Casoni, and ordered the bartender to make his Americano stronger by subbing out the soda for gin. The Count’s name was Camillo Negroni and the new strong cocktail was named after him.
Although invented by a man, who by all accounts was a notorious character, the Negroni has become a drink that shouts sophistication. Bartender Audrey Saunders famously said, “Nothing says grown-up like a Negroni.” In the 21st century, bartenders started to serve the drink in a rocks glass, rather than a martini glass to enhance its seriousness. Now, riding on the wave of bitter is better the Negroni has taken its place as one of the greats.
Typically enjoyed as an aperitif, The Negroni is the ultimate pre-dinner cocktail that can bridge the gap between work and play. It’s loved by bartenders and chefs because it is a drink packed with flavour and the Negroni has often be referred to as a botanist’s dream as the complexity from the botanicals in the gin are boosted by the unknown herbs and fruits in Campari.
But, what do you drink when you’re not drinking?
The NOgroni is making history by satisfying the needs of a new generation, and just like its alcoholic cousin, has made the botanicals the heroes of the drink. The NOgroni is made with a perfectly balanced mix of Seedlip Spice 94, Æcorn Bitter and Æcorn Aromatic. It’s a complex, bitter and citrusy blend with hints of Chinotto Orange, Grapefruit, All Spice and Gentian, a flavour-full herb. It’s an appetite stimulating before-dinner drink, but it can also be enjoyed as part of a meal.
To make a NOgroni, you simply stir the three ingredients over ice and serve the cocktail in a rocks glass with an Orange slice as a garnish. See right for the full recipe.
If you want to find out more about the NOgroni, come and find our NOgroni bar at London Cocktail Week! We’ll be serving NOgronis and hosting masterclasses from the 9th to 13th October. You can also buy bottled NOgroni here or at Selfridges.