Negroni: Simply Complex
In honor of Negroni Week June 6-12, 2016 , MIAbites welcomes Brandon Chase @TheBowtieBarrister as special guest "Cocktail Contributor" on his Negroni Crawl. Brandon is a Miami-based maritime and personal injury attorney, in private practice whose current passion is creating homemade cocktail bitters.
The bustling of a hectic Italian city.
Young lovers speaking to each other in a most romantic language.
The ubiquitous smell of espresso filling the streets.
Sitting at a cafe, overlooking the Arno, taking in the sights and sounds of it all.
You take a sip of your beverage, the city’s infamous cocktail. The bitterness stimulates your senses, the herbaceousness makes you feel alive. This is how Count Camillo Negroni felt in 1919, the first time he tried his namesake cocktail, conceived in the beautiful city of Florence.
The classic Negroni is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari - an Italian bitter spirit – stirred (never shaken) and served on the rocks with an orange peel. Traditionally, the cocktail was served as an apertif. However, this cocktail is making a comeback (cue LL Cool J) here in Miami as a beverage to enjoy at any time, and for good reason. A number of local bars and eateries are tipping their cap to this Italian classic and turning out some excellent adaptations.
As any good journalist would do, and with the beginning of Negroni Week June 1-7, I assigned myself the arduous task of traveling around Miami in search of the classic cocktail and those modern interpretations.
My first stop was a favorite Midtown Italian outpost, Bocce Bar. I sidled up to the bar, wide-eyed and ready to discover the many iterations of this fine drink. First up, the barrel-aged Negroni. At Bocce, the cocktail is aged in white oak barrels for 14 days before consumption. This gives the cocktail time to develop the oaky flavor a barrel imparts. This was a nice version of the classic. My colleague went with the Negroni alla fregole (“strawberry Negroni – for my non Italian-speaking audience). This was bright and fruity, with the addition of Aperol and freshly muddled strawberrries.
I then moved to the sbagliato, which in Italian means “mistake.” This interpretation of the cocktail allegedly was created when a bartender in Italy accidentally grabbed a bottle of Prosecco instead of gin. Suddenly, this effervescent cousin was born. Perfect for a midday or summer refreshment, the Prosecco’s citrusy notes complement the bitter Campari. In my opinion, a very welcomed “mistake.”
With bowtie loosened, and thirsty for more, I decided to head somewhere for another modern twist.
Seeing as barrel-aging is becoming increasingly popular, I stopped into newly opened Batch Gastropub in Brickell to taste their adaptation. Batch is serving a barrel-aged Spring Negroni, which uses a wine based spirit, Cappelletti, instead of the traditional neutral grain based Campari.
In speaking with the owner, Kevin Danilo, he informed me that his reason for using Cappelletti instead of Campari was due to the oxidization. “Our thought was since the Cappelletti is wine-based the drink would oxidize better, providing a better flavored cocktail.” After many failed attempts, the Spring Negroni was born. Danilo knows what he is talking about because this drink is excellent. Light and bright, but still has the gin-like quality I look for in my Negroni. Aged six weeks in the barrel before consumption, Danilo says among gin fans it has been their favorite Negroni. “For those who aren’t gin fans, this cocktail allows them to try something out of their comfort zone, and they are enjoying it.”
My final stop on this Negroni quest took me to the much-admired bar from the creative (read: evil genius) minds of Elad Zvi and Garbriel Orta. It was clear I had to try out their version(s). I stopped into The Broken Shaker, a tropical oasis hidden away in a nondescript corner of Miami Beach.
Here I tasted three varieties of the cocktail, all masterfully assembled by Miami-native, and United States Bartender Guild member, Rob Montero. In speaking with Montero, I asked him why the resurgence of this classic cocktail. “The Negroni is simple, yet complex. When made correctly, the bitterness of the Campari balances with the sweetness of the vermouth, allowing the gin to really express itself,” said Montero. Montero first served me the classic cocktail, up, in a vintage coupe glass.
With all the interest in the Negroni, Campari USA and Imbibe Magazine, are hosting Negroni Week. From June 1-7, participating bars will be donating proceeds from every Negroni sale towards a charity of their choice. Hundreds of bars around the country will be participating in this great cause. For example, Bocce will be supporting the Little Lighthouse Foundation, The Drawing Room at the Shelborne Hotel Miami Beach the YoungArts Foundation. Other participants include Cecconi's, Cibo Wine Bar, Coya, Lost Weekend, Lure Fishbar, Purdy, Quattro, the Regent, Radio Bar ,Dolce Italian, Repour, and Segafredo. For more info visit www.Negroniweek.com
By no means are these three establishments a comprehensive list of where to find a Negroni. So, get out there and try a Negroni. I guarantee you will love it. And although you may not be able to try the Florentine classic in its home city, I am fairly confident the Count would be proud of the variations our humble city of Miami has to offer!
Until next time,
Drink well, in good company.
2727 Indian Creek Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33140
30 SW 12th St, Miami, FL 33130
3250 NE 1st Ave #107, Miami, Florida 33137
 Listed as one of the International Bartenders Association’s official cocktails.
 My criminal defense attorney, who shall remain nameless, was on retainer throughout the evening.
 With all their recognition, including James Beard nominations, it is hard to argue the Shaker remains “hidden.”