Cowboy Negroni, a Real Life Italian Cocktail Loving Count

When I first started this blog I knew I would include a lot of cocktails. That’s partly how I chose the cute (nursery rhyme) name Sippity Sup. For a while, I was one of the few food bloggers mixing (pardon the metaphor) drinks and food on one website. But eating and drinking is a winning combination and pretty soon lots of folks pulled up a bar stool and joined me at the dinner table.

As a result, naturally, I lost a bit of interest in cocktails– editorially speaking. So I started doing more wine pairings and fewer cocktails. But dammit I miss my cocktails. I miss the sophisticated allure they bring to my blog. But mostly I miss the research that goes into writing about cocktails. Especially classic cocktails. So today I am jumping back on the wagon (not that I really ever “fell off” the wagon) with the Negroni, one of my very favorite classic quaffs.

It was named for a certain Count Negroni. Who was supposedly an Italian nobleman who liked to order a popular cocktail of the Prohibition era known in Italy as an Americano (read more about that drink here). Now Count Negroni supposedly preferred his Americano with no club soda. To fill the void the soda once occupied he supposedly directed the bartender to “put some gin in there instead.”

That’s quite a story. Romantic. Sophisticated. Fanciful even. That is why I used the word supposedly so perfunctory! The truth in these enchanting cocktail tales is often lost in a boozy haze. So I cover my editorial ass with the word supposedly. But guess what? When it comes to Count Negroni, it turns out it was all true. And this Count was one cool dude.

“Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni,” a book written by Luca Picchi, head bartender at Caffe Rivoire in Florence, verifies that the Cool Count not only existed, but he did, indeed, invent the Negroni. But there’s more. Wait for it… Count Negroni toured the U.S. for a while as a rodeo cowboy. An Italian Cowboy!

Now that’s a great story. Absolutely. But it takes more than a great story to make an iconic cocktail.

So what’s the secret behind the Negroni? Why is it so darned good? Why has it become a favorite among the cocktail literati around the world? Well as with so many things in life– simplicity has a lot to do with it. Mixological history has proven time and time again, nearly all of the world’s greatest cocktails have only two or three ingredients. GREG

Many of the facts I quote here come from Gary Regan. The recipe is adapted from David Wondrich.

Negroni Cocktail serves 1 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 1 1/2 oz London dry gin
  • 3/4 oz Campari
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 orange twist

Pour all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with cracked ice. Shake well, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Greg Henry writes the food blog Sippity Sup- Serious Fun Food, and contributes the Friday column on entertaining for The Back Burner at Key Ingredient. He’s active in the food blogging community, and a popular speaker at IFBC, Food Buzz Festival and Camp Blogaway. He’s led cooking demonstrations in PanamaCosta Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or at Homefries Podcast Network and was named one of The LA Weekly’s 5 favorite podcasts for food lovers.


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