It’s been 100 years since Count Camillo Negroni asked a bartender, one Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favourite Americano cocktail by switching up the soda water for gin. Since then the negroni has become the discerning drinker’s aperitivo of choice, and has grown from its Florentine beginnings to a much wider success. But although there’s only three ingredients to play with – gin, vermouth, Campari – results can differ extraordinarily, and there’s nothing worse than a substandard sundowner. Here’s where you can count on getting the best negronis right here in London.
Classic Negroni at Polpo
Ingredients: Beefeater gin, Campari, Cinzano Rosso 1757 vermouth
Inspired by the bacari, the small bars serving drinks and cicchetti that line Venice’s backstreets, Polpo makes a great classic negroni to be enjoyed alongside its menu of small plates. Its Smithfield branch even has a newly opened negroni bar dedicated to the cocktail (in collaboration with Vermouth and apertivo producer Cocchi), which is launching a flight menu to celebrate the drink’s 100th birthday from 24 June. Featuring white, classic and king negronis, the menu comes alongside free-flowing bar snacks.
£10, 3 Cowcross Street, Farringdon, London EC1M 6DR, polpo.co.uk
Vesca Negroni at Fitz’s bar
Ingredients: Ford’s Gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, Dolin Blanc, Woodland Strawberry, Rosehip, Aloe, Coconut
The team behind Fitz’s bar at the Kimpton Fitzroy London know how to put on a show. They’ve taken the original negroni and turned it upside down and inside out, with the resulting aperitivo looking nothing like one the good Count would recognise. But that’s not to say it doesn’t deserve its spot on the list, as the huge red ice cube adds depth and hints of rosehip, strawberry and coconut to the cocktail.
£14, Kimpton Fitzroy London, Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 5BE, fitzs.co.uk
Il Perfetto at Cafe Murano
Ingredients: VII Hills Gin, Campari, Cocchi Americano, balsamic vinegar, nutmeg.
Angela Hartnett’s Cafe Murano is the low-key sibling of her Michelin-starred joint up the road. But the more casual atmosphere makes for an ideal setting to sit back with a much-needed negroni at the end of a long working day. Although always a presence on its menu, to celebrate the centenary it has created a dedicated negroni and cicchetti menu, including three different takes on the aperitivo. Our pick is Il Perfetto, with added balsamic vinegar and nutmeg to sweeten the negroni’s natural bitterness.
£13.50, Cafe Murano Covent Garden, 36 Tavistock Street, London WC2E 7PB and Cafe Murano St James, 33 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1HD, cafemurano.co.uk
Amarone Negroni at The Ivy
Ingredients: Beefeater London Dry Gin, Bloomsbury Peated Vodka, Antica Formula, Campari.
The Ivy’s plush velvet bar stools are just right for sinking into for a well-earned drink – and its Amarone Negroni will set you up for anything the evening has to offer. Combining Beefeater London Dry Gin with Bloomsbury Peated Vodka, it’s a harder take on the classic aperitivo, and brings a smoky finish to the bitter flavours. When you need one, you really need one.
£11.50, 1-5 West Street, London WC2H 9NQ, the-ivy.co.uk
Mele Negroni at Mele e Pere
Ingredients: East London Liquor Co, gin, house-blend vermouth, Campari
Trattoria and vermouth bar Mele e Pere has London’s largest selection of vermouth behind its bar, including its own homemade varieties. This means it’s undoubtedly well-placed to concoct some of the best negronis in town. The house special, a Mele Negroni made with gin from East London and the restaurant’s own house-blend vermouth, takes our pick any day of the week. And, to mark the anniversary, Mele et Pere has also launched a special negroni menu, featuring five twists on the classic drinks, as well as masterclasses throughout National Negroni Week.
£11, masterclasses from 24 June, 46 Brewer Street, Soho, London W1F 9TF, meleepere.co.uk
Negroni Superiore at Bar Termini
Ingredients: London Dry Gin, Italian Vermouth and Italian Bitters with pink peppercorns
Widely regarded as the bar that brought the negroni to London (or at least made it cool), Bar Termini is a tiny, chic Italian caffè brought to life in the middle of Soho. Specialising in aperitivo and small plates to nibble on, its menus offers up four takes on the negroni: Classico, Superiore, Rosato and Robusto. For those who want a spicier finish to their pre-dinner drink, we suggest the Negroni Superiore, infused with pink peppercorns. Even better, all its negroni blends are available to buy by the bottle, so you can take your favourite version home with you.
£7, 7 Old Compton Street, London W1D 5JE, bar-termini.com