Negroni’s story is well known to all of us. Count Negroni drank Americano and wanted something else and blah blah blah. All this happened around 1919 and the reason that the combination of three ingredients: gin, red sweet vermouth and Campari has remained in history since then is the complexity and the –sweet– bitterness that irritates our palate.
There are many ways to “tease” a Negroni, we’ll take a look at how we could give it a more Greek –local spirits– version.
We start with the easiest, to use a Greek gin since this option is now available. I would recommend Grace Gin where the croutons and aronia add a pleasant floral note. Replacing Gin with MDry mastic has a round and easy-going effect. This recipe is currently best-seller at Opsho Restaurant in London, thanks to fellow bartender Yiannis Petros Petris, creator of the business cocktail list. The removal of white drinks is also incredibly interesting, where we replace gin with Metaxa 12*. With this change, of course, we are heading to Boulevardier but we have a very warm and raisin-rich result.
The second way to change the classic aperitif is to play with vermouth. Greek productions such as Otto’s Athens Vermouth by Concepts S.A. and Vermood of Tentura Castro-G.P. Hahalis Distillery gives us very nice results. I personally like Otto’s because of its floral and slightly spicy character.
But the big game starts with Greek wines. Xinomavro, Mavrotragano, Agiorgitiko, Mavrodafni but also white varieties such as Assyrtiko and Moschato will give very special results if we mix them and flavour them by infusing in them any herb, root, spice, fruit available, tea.
The method is simple: we dip into the wine, with tea bags, the spices one by one for 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the intensity we want to receive from each herb. Add or reload some ingredient until we get the desired result. Then we increase the alcohol level with neutral alcohol or overproof rum or Metaxa. We leave the mix to rest for two to three nights. Then we are ready to make our own unique local Negroni. The use of thermomix or sous vide will provide stability and depth but deprive the freshness, the raw flavours of the ingredients as well as the joy of creation.
First publication in Greek: Beer & Bar Magazine, Issue 10