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Bar Fri Oct 28 2011
Classic cocktails in general are, of course, but has anyone else noticed the negroni in particular getting a lot of attention lately? It must be negroni season.
I love the idea of a negroni -- traditionally 1 part gin, 1 part Campari, and 1 part sweet vermouth. But while I'm a fan of all of those things separately, I just can't get on the negroni train. Let's be honest here: they're kind of gross. Or, if you disagree, you'll at least grant me that they're an acquired taste. In fact I don't think I've ever heard the negroni described without "they're kind of an acquired taste" added as a caveat. It's a drink that's quite strong and bitter and sweet, all at once.
So, a negroni-lover I am not. But I am stubborn, and possibly also somewhat of a lush, so through trial and error I've discovered some pretty tasty variations on the negroni to be found here in Chicago. Here are a few of my favorites, culled from my highly scientific research process of asking local bartenders, "what can you make me that's kind of like a negroni but um, isn't?"
Longman & Eagle: the Negroni di Aquila
With Aperol in place of the Campari and Prosecco instead of gin, this is a sweet and refreshing drink -- but not too sweet, thanks to Punt e Mes. This goes down easy, very easy. You've been warned.
The Whistler: the Martinez
This is a classic gin cocktail made with maraschino liqueur and vermouth. Mine was made with Old Tom gin, Carpano Antica, and of course a cherry. (I love ordering drinks with a cherry at the Whistler, where you get a delicious, real, liquor-soaked cherry, not one of those bright red things -- can we talk about how gross those are?) Nicely sweet but still strong.
Gilt Bar: the Boulevardier
This is another classic drink. Possibly the most similar to a negroni, there is only one substitution -- rye or bourbon for gin. In this case, Wild Turkey rye. Baffled as to why I would enjoy this but not a negroni, I asked after the ratios, and the bartender informed me that there's a little more rye than either Campari or vermouth here. Bonus: while negroni season might be up for debate, there's no question as to whether it's whiskey season, so drink up.
So there you have it. Go forth this weekend and drink your negronis-that-aren't-negronis!