Agent, at times you will be called upon to blend in Italy. At which point, a proper start to a meal is to order the most continental of all cocktails, the Negroni. Sipping a Negroni cocktail, and appearing to enjoy it, will make you indeed seem, continental, but this will only be but one part of your cover while working in Italy. American agents, unaccustomed to the Negroni’s bitterness, what with their Squirrel Nut Zippers, Goo Goo Clusters and other confounded confections, will frown at the bitterness. You mustn’t do this. When lucky, you will receive a thin orange zest, but do not eschew the orange wedge that will sometime appear as a garnish, eat it and stay strong with it’s precious Vitamin C. Nutrition is important, you’ll recall how it helped us beat the Jerry’s back in the war. But otherwise, take great head with the details of the Negroni agent, for this potable is equal parts delicate, bitter & dangerous.
The Negroni balances 3 ingredients on the edge of a edge of a straight razor. It takes a steady hand to shave in the morning and the same care must be taken in balancing the floral gin, sweet vermouth and bitter Campari. Contrary to how you guzzle your Martinis agent, the Negroni isn’t a gin cocktail — it is an aperitvio cocktail first. And do not inquire as to which gin is being used as that is certainly the least important ingredient in a Negroni. Much more important is that the vermouth, which is wine, is fresh or stored correctly so that it has not spoiled.
While the Campari will be bitter, think not of the Negroni as a digestif. For that matter, while in Italy, be sure to say “aperitivo & degestivo.” Ordering a Negroni after a meal would be a folly tantamount to ordering schnapps before the meal. Remember your classical studies, as in the Odyssey or the Aeneid, the Three Muses are called upon for inspiration at the beginning, not the end.
Agent, while I have informed you that the Negroni is but three ingredients, gin, sweet vermouth and Campari you must also understand two important variations. While the Yanks and us British will stir our cocktails and take them “up” the continental way is to take them “on the rocks” as they say. You mustn’t make a preference otherwise or you will certainly be made. Also, while Campari as a brand was intended for the original Negroni, you will find that the family distillers all over Italy have traditional variations of red bitter aperitvos that date back long before Hogarth ever etched beer street and gin lane. You must accept the local bitter as you travel and not stress the “tourist’s need,” for the brand you know. As Pious XII would say, “when in Rome.”
Lastly, let no Negroni be complete without the proper handmade, suede will do very well, shoes. In basic oxfords, you will be spotted as a foreigner immediately.
The Negroni from Risico