OK, But What’s a Negroni?

Good question! (Hear that, cocktail snobs?)

A Negroni is a classic cocktail most often served over ice as an aperitif, made of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, and garnished with orange.

Don’t feel embarrassed if you haven’t heard of it till now. The popularity of the bittersweet, ruby sunset-hued drink has ebbed and flowed, here in America, anyway. Some of us who drank their first Negroni in Ancient Rome recall a North American big-city Negroni wave back in the mid-1980s, another in the late ’90s. Always most popular at urban patio bars in early summer, the Negroni has gathered enough momentum over the past five years of social media-fed craft-cocktail churn to trickle into suburban fast casual restaurants–and no before-dinner drink looks better on Pinterest.

So, Is It Only Available One Week of the Year?

Che sciocchezze!  Negroni Week is a promotion, not a seasonal window–and thank Heaven for that! Indeed, one of the unique qualities of the Negroni is its multiseason appeal. While it carries a dramatic piece of ice like Elizabeth Taylor, the Negroni manages to warm and cool you at the same time, a fact touched on by the salty chef and memoirist Gabrielle Hamilton as quoted in the New York Times: “The first one,” she says, “kind of burrows down through your system, and it has a bitter, burning quality at first, which is perfect for clearing room for an appetite before dinner.” (The second one is also typically the last, as Negronis are said to be like breasts: one is not enough and three is too many.)

Speaking of overkill: As with every trend, acclaim for the Negroni has tipped the balance here and there, provoking some to spit actual kumquat zest, others to despair when they hear the word.Imbibe Magazine and Campari can take some of the blame. They launched Negroni Week in 2013 and last year, got 1,300 bars all over the world to participate, raising more than $120,000 for charities. They’ll do it again June 1-7, 2015.

We are so in. And here is why you in the bar business should be, too.

Negroni Week: Six Ways to Sunday

1. If the Negroni is already part of your bar repertoire, it would be weird for you not to. You may have already featured the Negroni–either in a promotion or as a bartender’s specialty–in which case it’s a draw, and your customers think of you as a Negroni source, so pony up, already!

2. New to the Negroni? Your customers probably aren’t. What better time to introduce it? The fountain of ideas and marketing support is flowing at Negroni Week. If other cocktails made it this easy to do business, you’d need quadruple the staff.

3. The Negroni knows no gender. It is enjoyed by women and secure men throughout the world.

4. The Negroni is numbingly easy to make, with an ingredients ratio even a barback can remember; no decanting necessary (unless you’re lucky enough to live in a state that lets you barrel-age and/or serve your own batched cocktails); and a world of proven options for substitution

5. The Negroni lives in the pour-cost sweet spot, between 18 and 24 percent. Especially for an on-trend cocktail, it’s not going to kill you on either goods or labor.

6. The Negroni is a gateway cocktail–to the dining room, that is. Its amari stimulate the appetite and ease the segue into wine with dinner like no martini ever could.

Stay in front of your customers with the #NegroniWeek hashtag. Stock up on barstools. And get a bag of practice oranges if you don’t know how to cut a spiral.

Elaine Evans
Elaine Evans Elaine Evans is thrilled to blog for KaTom, where her work in restaurants, bars, catering, and artisanal food has caught up at last with her career in journalism and public relations writing.