A Recipe for What I’m Drinking: The Negroni

August 6, 2008

I love the Negroni. It’s such an accurate mingling of flavors, a demonstration of how, with a little attention to balance, the world (or at least the drinking world) can come into alignment in a manner that has to make the universe applaud. Sure,  I’m going overboard a bit with my fluffy language, but that’s what a really good drink drives us to, flights of poetic fancy usually reserved for singing the praises of nymphs–or at least of the hottie at the other end of the bar.

 

I love the Negroni so much that I made wife Natalie and pals Jeremy and Meg track down Café Giacosa in Florence, when we were visiting Italy, which is where the Negroni was thought to have been invented by a Florentine count, Camillo Negroni, and bartender Fosco Scarselli, who was bartending at the Bar Casoni, which became Café Giacosa (that sentence is much more confusing than the drink itself). The count wanted more kick in his Americano (which is Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda, and which, if you haven’t had one, is tasty in its own right when the sun’s heat is descending on your head like warm cotton) one day  after a long night of dancing the Volta, and the Negroni was born. At least that’s the story. The Café Giacosa is now owned by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, and packed with animal print stools and I suppose oodles of style (I think we weren’t up to the normal clientele, as we were a bit sweaty and rocking shorts and t-shirts), as well as super friendly bartenders–super friendly and super attractive bartenders. My guess is that they’re models between gigs, or wannabe models, or just modelesque drink slingers. They made dandy Negronis though, which, in the end, matters more than the history, even. Drinking them there, surrounded by the faux leopard prints, in the one of the world’s finest cities, was a perfect way to while away the afternoon.

 

 

The Negroni I’m having now is being consumed at night (though who knows when I’ll actually get this post posted), and in “up” format. Sometimes I enjoy my Negronis over the rocks (when it’s a little sweaty out and I want to have some ice for accompaniment; then it’s “Negroni on the rocks, ain’t no big surprise” as the song says), but the moon is out, and I’m wearing a tux and feeling classy, and having it up seemed the right way to accent the evening. I don’t always feel that a drink should be changeable like that (and I’m sure some will turn up their noses at my even suggesting it, and that’s okay, too, cause everyone has to make those choices. And, while we’re admitting things, I’m not really wearing a tux). But, somehow, the Negroni works both ways for me.

 

Much in the same way as both Diana Prince and Wonder Woman work for me–one is more outwardly heroic, but the secret identity is also important, and also a key role. See, I tend to think (as I’ve mentioned before somewhere) of the Negroni as the Wonder Woman of drinks (this taking drinks into the DC universe, and showing my boundless love for the Negroni in geek form), after the Martini’s Superman and the Manhattan’s Batman. This may be giving it outlandish props (again, disagree if you want–do it in the comments though, and let me know who you’d sub in instead). The Wonder Woman TV show theme song does have the line “dressed in satin tights, fighting for your rights,” and I see the Campari as the satin tights in this situation, which I guess makes the gin the rest of the costume, and that sweet vermouth the magic lasso and the bullet-deflecting bracelets (as without it, the drink would be too metallic? Seems to make sense). And, the Negroni has an even-keeled nature (like Wonder Woman), but is still somewhat a drink of the people (attached to the world, and not belong to the universe). But I’m going far afield. Make yourself one tonight, and you’ll soon have your own theories. Here’s the recipe I used:

 

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces gin

1-1/2 ounces Campari

1-1/2 ounces sweet vermouth

Orange twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

 

A Variation: I heard about this from Pierre, a Florence bartender (who I met at the Hotel Casci). If you make a Negroni with Champagne or sparkling wine (you’d have to put it in after shaking and straining the Campari and vermouth, then top with the bubbly), it’s called a “Spagliato.” Which means “wrong.”

Cocktail Talk: Anthony Trollope

August 6, 2008

Beyond the stacks of cocktail, drink, entertaining, and cooking books, I tend to read a wide range of printed works, from pulpy paperbacks in pocket size to long-boxes of comics to more modern novelists to poetry. But maybe my favorite area to hang out in, literature-ily, is the classic English novelists, especially Dickens and Anthony Trollope. Trollope’s drawing room books aren’t only an example of stellar prose (this really should go without saying, like it goes without saying that an Old Fashioned should never have soda water), but also feature characters whose motivations, observations, and situations are incredibly relevant today (even if they aren’t burdened down by cellular phones, televisions, and autos). Also, as they play out very episodically, Trollope books are ideal to take on daily bus rides, and, as they transport you in a way, they’re also ideal to take on planes, or on trips. I could go on and on, but instead, let me type in my favorite Trollope quote having to do with drinking (though there are lots of others, as many of his characters–not as many as Dickens, but still a lot–enjoy their drinks and parties), a quote that I never get tired of:

 

“The gentleman in his cups is a gentleman always, and the man who tells his friend in his cups that he is in love does so because the fact has been very present to himself in his cooler and calmer moments.”

 

–Anthony Trollope, He Knew He Was Right

 

That’s good, late 1800’s stuff y’all.

Opening Round

August 6, 2008

Hello cocktail lovers, highball hitters, long-tall sippers, and, of course, punch cup plunders, and welcome to my blog, Spiked Punch. My plan is to make it a drinking and entertaining (well, let’s hope) blog, that’ll feature recipes, cocktail art, cocktail videos (of the silly and straightforward varieties), quotes about drinking, drinks, soirées, and box socialing, stories, and other conversational imbibable (and maybe a little edible) delights–a number of ingredients that play well together, like a good punch. As well as links to other blogs that fall into the same liquid and edible realm, because there are many, many great blogs like that out there. Which is one of the main reasons I wanted to start my own blog–I wanna be a part of the great drinker’s blogosphere. It’s a fun place to hang out, and now I get to be in the party. Hopefully this blog will be updated on a semi-regular basis, and (even more hopefully), you’ll come back, comment, and then I’ll get to sit at this virtual bar with you and sip and talk and sip. That sounds lovely to me. Cheers.