Photo Credit: Wes Rowe
Although the Negroni (a potent cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari, and vermouth) was first crafted in Italy during the early 1900s and is named for its creator, Count Negroni—an Italian aristocrat who lived in Florence and preferred to order his Americanos with gin—the cocktail is loved and celebrated in San Francisco. In his book Drinking the Devil’s Acre, local mixologist and bar historian, Duggan McDonnell explains the city’s love affair with the classic libation: “The Negroni is San Francisco’s most-beloved cocktail import. In this case, the City, which usually plays the role of vanguardist, had the good sense to embrace something so wonderful and seemingly so very foreign. I have known native San Franciscans who have spent their lives, far into their winter years, always drinking Negronis, such is the love for and dedication to the drink. Throughout the region, from the coast of Mendocino down to the bay of Monterey, the Negroni is the most ubiquitous cocktail of historic origin. And it’s tough going to get a bad one.” The Bay Area loves the Negroni so much that each year, the entire bar tending community comes together to throw a seven-day event called Negroni Week.
Photo Credit: Wes Rowe
Actually an international charity-initiative hosted by Campari, the bitter bright red liqueur that is one-third of a Negroni and Imbibe magazine, Negroni Week is observed all over the world. Last year more than 3,500 venues raised over $320,000 for charitable causes and San Francisco’s establishments are playing a big role in the movement. Restaurants like Michael Mina, Bix, and The Cavalier are joining bars such as Trick Dog, Comstock Saloon, and Elixir to offer Negroni Week specials. Even places that wouldn’t normally serve Negronis, like Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, are getting in on the fun by serving dishes made with the Negroni’s signature flavors. The bakery, which has a cult-following is serving up doughgronis, a delightful doughnut filled with Campari blood orange curd and Negroni cream. Tony’s Pizza is offering a Campari pizza with pancetta, goat cheese, escarole, and Campari blood orange reduction. Umami Burger is serving a Negroni burger with a beef and wild mushroom patty topped with Campari and cola barbecue sauce, while Cockscomb is cooking mussels in a briny boozy Negroni broth.
Photo Credit: Grace SagerWhere can you find the hautesst Negronis in town? Head to Lazy Bear for a baller Negroni, a concoction made with 30-year old vermouth from Macvin Jura. At ABV, you can sip on the Lamborghroni, which is made with local vermouth from Matthiasson Napa Valley and saffron-infused Old Raj 110 gin. Forgery’s V.O.C Negroni combines Bols Genever with Carpano Antica, fino sherry, and Campari-infused strawberries. Perbacco is stirring an assortment of Negronis including one made with Laird’s apple brandy, another made with tequila and egg whites, and a third with prosecco, the Negroni spritz. Although June gloom is in full effect in SF, if you’re in wine country, where the weather is hot, Ninebark is serving a frozen variation with Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda. There are also Negroni-centric events happening around town: play with puppies at Turnkey at Cantina, tomorrow June 7th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Negroni Week Puppy Happy Hour or attend a book reading with McDonnell at the Goorin Brother’s Cocktail Hour on Thursday, June 9, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.