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On the Rocks: Campari and the Negroni

Elevate your home bar with a bottle of Campari and learn how to make a bitter but delicious cocktail—the Negroni.

It's time to elevate your drinking style from a six-pack of cans to a collection of bottles you're proud to pour. Don't have at-home mixology down to a science? We'll get you there. Each week, On the Rocks takes a look at a spirit that deserves a spot in your liquor lineup and delivers a cocktail recipe that's sure to impress your friends, family, and the girl who's not afraid to down a stiff drink.

The Spirit: Campari

Bright red, tangy, and delightfully bitter, Campari is an Italian apéritif (a drink to be had before dinner to stimulate the appetite) that's made with a closely guarded mix of herbs. To the inexperienced liquor palate, the astringency of Campari can put a lot of people off, but once you work past the initial shock of bitterness, the tongue prickling punch lightens up your body with a medicinal warmth and fruity finish. It goes great with soda water, orange juice, or grapefruit juice, and should be readily accompanied with an orange peal. Whether or not you learn to love the stuff as is, when properly balanced, Campari is a phenomenal mixer that any novice mixologist can use to make drinks sing with complexity.

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The Cocktail: The Negroni

On a tipsy day in 1919, an Italian count, Camillo Negroni, marched into café and demanded that the bartender amp up the juice in his Americano (a Campari-based cocktail) by substituting gin for the traditional soda water. The bartender did as he was told, finishing the new concoction with a twist of orange, and vóila! A new cocktail was born. The Negroni--arguably one of the most famous cocktails out there--is a great before or after-dinner cocktail that pairs well with citrus fruits and bitter greens. It starts with an astringent maple sweetness and finishes with herbal aromatics and refreshing orange zest. Yes, she's a sexy beast. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 orange peal 

Directions:

  1. Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in a mixing glass. Stir for about 12 seconds, or until chilled.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

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The Bottle: Campari 

It's widely available in most liquor stores, so this one should be an easy find and will set you back about $30 a bottle. 

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