I suppose, because of its color, the Negroni could make sense as a winter cocktail, but for me it always says ”summer”, Italian summer: d’estate.
The recipe is simple, yet iconic: one part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel. The Negroni is not technically a cocktail, but rather, an apéritif, alcohol served before the meal.
Legend says that it was first mixed in Florence in 1919, at Caffè Giacosa, located on Via de’ Tornabuoni (now named Caffè Roberto Cavalli). Count Camillo Negroni concocted it by asking the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favorite cocktail, an ”Americano”, by adding gin instead of soda water. Scarselli also added an orange garnish rather than the typical lemon garnish of the Americano to set it apart as a different drink.
After it became a success, the Negroni family founded Negroni Distillerie in Treviso, producing a ready-made version of the drink, sold as Antico Negroni in a small bottle.
One of the earliest reports of the drink came from Orson Welles while filming Cagliostro (1947) in Roma, where he described a new cocktail to the press:
“The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.”
Camillo Negroni died in 1934, in Florence. While his status as a count is questionable, his grandfather really was royalty. The family claims that it was Pascal Olivier de Negroni, Count de Negroni who invented the drink in 1857 in Senegal.
There are variations: Negroni Sbagliato replaced the gin with Prosecco; Boulevardier uses whiskey in place of gin, a Dutch Negroni substitutes Jenever for the London dry gin in the original recipe; Old Pal uses dry vermouth instead of sweet and Canadian rye. A Negroni with tequila is known as an Agavoni.
But, the common denominator is Campari. Starting in the early 19th century, Campari has used some of the most idiosyncratic and innovative imagery created in Italy. Campari’s online archives have the original Belle Époque posters, plus the revolutionary campaigns of the 1920s, and the elegant designs of the 1960s.
The company was founded in Milan in 1860 by Gaspare Campari (1828-1882), yet it was under nephew Davide Campari (1867-1936) that the company pursued a more dynamic approach to marketing,using the new power of the advertising poster.
Creating a sophisticated brand profile, during the early 1900s Campari collaborated with some of the most celebrated advertising artists of the day: Leonetto Cappiello, Marcello Dudovich, Adolf Hohenstein, and Marcello Nizzoli.
At first the campaigns attuned to the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau movement, but it was the pioneering campaigns created by Italian Futurist artist Fortunato Depero starting in the mid-1920s that became Campari’s most celebrated commissions. Using his trademark puppet characters, Depero’s bold, witty and geometric designs modernized Campari’s look, creating an unmistakable visual brand. Depero’s drawings were also used as the basis of the famous conical-shaped Campari bottle, launched in 1932.
Depero felt that posters would be “the painting of the future” continued to be reflected in Campar’s post-WW II ads, which included elegant designs by Franz Marangolo and Bruno Munari, the epitome the spirit of the Swingin’ 1960s.
So, on this simmering summer Sunday, mix a Negroni and take a look at these refreshing posters from other eras.