Mixing your own artisanal drinks is easier than you might think, says Le Sirenuse’s head barman, Roberto Pane. Plenty of cocktail professionals make their own ingredients, and for obvious reasons, many cloak these creations in a veil of mystery. But there’s no reason why they should be complicated.
Take the Negroni Sbagliato. Roberto uses Campari that he infuses with rosemary, a herb that grows wild on the Amalfi Coast, in the preparation of this lighter take on classic Italian aperitivo the Negroni. “It’s the easiest thing in the world to make”, he explains. “On the morning of the day before you’re planning to serve the cocktail, simply chop up some rosemary leaves and let them soak in the Campari you will be using in the recipe. Don’t forget to pass the infusion through a strainer before you use it, to remove the chopped up leaves!”
One part gin, one part red vermouth and one part Campari, the Negroni was reputedly born just over a century ago, in 1919, when a certain ‘Count Negroni’ asked the barman of Florence’s Caffé Giacosa to stiffen up his Americano by replacing the soda water with gin. Fast forward to Milan’s Bar Basso in the 1970s, where another bartender, Mirko Stochetto, lightened the recipe up again, without quite watering it down, by replacing the gin with a dry spumante from Italy’s Trentino region. He christened it the ‘Negroni Sbagliato’, or ‘Mistaken Negroni’. It became an immediate hit, and is today a part of every Italian barista’s core repertoire.
Which red vermouth you use is very much a matter of personal taste, but for Roberto there are two with the perfect mix of aromatics and sweetness to balance the bitter edge of the Campari: Cocchi, a historic blend from Turin, and the legendary Carpano Antica Formula, with its decisive vanilla notes.
Infused Negroni Sbagliato
- 6 cl (2 fl. oz.) Prosecco or dry spumante
- 6 cl (2 fl. oz.) red vermouth
- 6 cl (2 fl. oz.) rosemary-infused Campari (see procedure above)
- ice cubes
- a slice of orange
- a sprig of rosemary
- a couple of basil leaves
The drink is made in the glass, in a standard cocktail tumbler. First put in the ice cubes, then add the rosemary-infused Campari, the red vermouth and the prosecco or dry spumante, in that order. Drop in the sprig of rosemary, add the slice of orange (Roberto uses a partially desiccated one for artistic effect), and garnish with the basil leaves.
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