The Negroni

A Love Affair with a Classic Cocktail


By Matt Hranek

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A CENTURY AGO THE COCKTAIL ACHIEVED PERFECTION when, according to legend, Count Camillo Negroni asked his bartender in Florence to stiffen an Americano by replacing the soda water with gin. The world never looked back. With its cosmically simple 1:1:1 ratio, its balance of bitter and sweet, its pleasant kick, its aura of sophistication, the Negroni has bewitched cocktail lovers ever since. Perhaps none more so than Matt Hranek, who intones this love song to his favorite drink and offers a curated collection of recipes, both the classic and dozens of variations, deviations, and delicious reinterpretations.


The Author's Negroni

Wm Brown Farm, New York

My house cocktail deviates slightly from the 1:1:1 formula, leaning heavier on the Campari and gin and lighter on the vermouth than the classic version. Good ice is not as important to me as a good glass, and the choice is always crystal, preferably something from my Baccarat collection.

  • 1¼ ounces (40 ml) Campari
  • 1¼ ounces (40 ml) London dry gin
  • ¾ ounce (20 ml) Punt e Mes vermouth
  • Slice of orange for garnish

Combine the Campari, gin, and vermouth in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with the orange slice.

The Americano

Camparino in Galleria, Milan

The story of the Negroni begins with this precursor, traced back to 1860 and Gaspare Campari's bar in Milan. The Americano was originally known as the Milano-Torino (Milano is the birthplace of Campari, and Torino that of vermouth). Some say its name change was sparked by its popularity with American expats in Italy; others claim that it was named in honor of Primo Carnera, an Italian boxer who was nicknamed "the Americano" after winning a world championship at Madison Square Garden in 1933.

  • 1 ounce (30 ml) Campari
  • 1 ounce (30 ml) sweet vermouth
  • Soda water
  • Strip of lemon peel for garnish

Combine the Campari and vermouth in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Top off with a splash of soda water, stir, and garnish with the lemon peel.

"A Negroni—easy to make, delicious to taste, potent in effect: one of life's most agreeable pleasures this side of the law."

—Alexander Kraft,

Hotel Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole

The Negroni Sbagliato

Bar Basso, Milan

Milan is the birthplace of the Sbagliato ("mistaken") Negroni, with the gin replaced by sparkling wine. The story goes that a bartender at the city's famed Bar Basso accidentally grabbed a bottle of Prosecco instead of gin when making a Negroni for a customer. Before he could retrieve the drink and correct the mistake, the patron stopped him with a "Wait, let's give it a try!" And just like that, the Sbagliato was born.

  • 1 ounce (30 ml) sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce (30 ml) Campari
  • 1 ounce (30 ml) Prosecco or other Italian sparkling white wine
  • Slice of orange for garnish

Pour the vermouth, Campari, and Prosecco into a stemmed glass, or other glass of your choice, filled with ice. Stir and garnish with the orange slice.

"It's the bitter aspect of the Negroni that always makes me come back for more. I don't love overly sweet cocktails, and this classic Italian flirts nicely with that idea."

—Brad Leone,
video personality

The William Brown Negroni

Hotel Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Italy

As with real estate, sometimes the most important factor in determining the enjoyment of a Negroni comes down to one word: location. For me, nowhere is that more evident than at the bar of the Hotel Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, on the Tuscan coast. There is something about the caught-in-time elegance, the view of the sea from the cliff top, and the expertise and charm of the head barman, Federico Morosi, that makes it a singular experience. Federico considers the Negroni a symbol of Italy, especially of Florence—like a bespoke suit in its eleganza and singular character. He enjoys the drink just as much with a square of dark chocolate and a superb Tuscan cigar after dinner as with salty snacks during the aperitivo hour. In this house specialty, which Federico graciously named in honor of my Wm Brown brand, an intensely flavored, golden-colored aperitif known as Biancosarti stands in for the sweet vermouth. The result is a bright, blond variation on the original.

  • 1 ounce (30 ml) Campari
  • 1 ounce (30 ml) Tuscan gin
  • 1 ounce (30 ml) Biancosarti
  • Strip of lemon peel for garnish
  • Strip of orange peel for garnish

Combine the Campari, gin, and Biancosarti in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with the citrus peels.

"A Negroni, like many wonderful creations, is deceptively simple. When it's done absolutely right—when you have that huge ice cube, the fresh orange peel, and that delicate balance of flavors of the right components in a sturdy glass—it's a drink that's not only delicious but seems made to carry you through great conversations and memories."

—Aziz Ansari,
writer/director/actor/comedian/Negroni fan

The Teller

Hotel Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Italy


  • “A marvelous ode to one of the world’s most beloved and versatile alcoholic beverages.”
    —Cool Hunting

    The Negroni is equal parts love letter and little black book—a passionate and personal tribute to one of the world’s most versatile drinks.”
    —Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters, Amaro, and Last Call
    “This is one of the best books devoted to a single cocktail I’ve read. It’s beautiful and informative, and, most important, the writing is both deeply opinionated and open-minded and welcoming.”
    —Michael Ruhlman, author of The Soul of a Chef and Charcuterie
    “Illuminating, irresistible, and eminently useful. It's an absolute treat to be among Matt’s students: follow his lead and you're sure to have a hell of a time. You’ll probably learn something, too.”
    —Frank Castronovo Frank Falcinelli

On Sale
May 25, 2021
Page Count
160 pages

Matt Hranek

Matt Hranek

About the Author

Matt Hranek is the author of A Man & His Watch, A Man & His Car, The Martini, and The Negroni, as well as a photographer, a director, and the founder/editor of the men’s lifestyle magazine WM Brown. He and his family divide their time between Brooklyn and the Wm Brown Farm in upstate New York, though he can also be spotted quite often in old-school bars around Europe, Negroni in hand. Find him on Instagram at @wmbrownproject.

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