New York Dining: Making a Fuss over Negronis

I am a negroni man from way back  More recently, I became an apostate, substituting aperol for compari. It was just easier on the tunny.

And then came the negroni fad. You heard hipsters swearing up an down that life was not worth living without a negroni in hand. And bartenders everywhere knew the recipe. BTW, I am still baffled how the bartender at the Americano hotel in Chelsea did not know how to make an Americano cocktail – but that is another, if related story.

So where to go for a great Negroni in New York? Anywhere. But some bars are more negoni friendly than others. Grub Street offers its top picks. Cafe Dante in the Village gets the top pick

There are a number of variables by which a Negroni can be improved or degraded, starting with the choice of gin and vermouth. (Campari is nonnegotiable.) There’s the matter of proportions; some go heavier on the gin. Do you serve it up or on the rocks? If the latter, there’s the quality of ice to be considered. Finally, there’s temperature. Nothing can kill a Negroni like the absence of an appropriate chill. Dante gets everything right. It ought to. The bar — formerly Caffe Dante, a storied Village coffee house — has fashioned itself an Italianate aperitivo-style bar. There’s a whole page of Negroni variations. The standard, served on tap, is spot on. It’s 1 ounce Bombay Sapphire, three-fourths ounce Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth, and three-fourths ounce Campari. Served with a few cubes, it arrives strong, stiff, and very cold. It’s best to order it at night, when it’ll be served by a proper bartender, rather than a waiter doing double duty.

Image result for Dante MacDougal Street

The more interesting concoction, methinks, came from Amor y Amargo

As a cocktail bar that specializes in all things bitter, the Negroni is one of Amor y Amargo’s signature drinks. I’ve always thought the forthright London-dry gin Beefeater the best choice for a Negroni and, as it’s the only gin this bar carries, that is what’s used. The vermouth is the equally broad-shouldered Carpano Antica. The drink is given a brief stir, so it comes at you with some teeth. How strong it is depends on the server. Chief barkeep Sother Teague goes heavy on the gin, pouring 2 ounces to 1 ounce each of vermouth and Campari. (He also throws in a couple dashes of Angostura bitters, a radical touch.) His lieutenant, Lindsay Matteson, takes it down to an ounce. Both versions are good — but you get more bang for your buck with Teague’s spec.

Bottoms up! Here’s to your monkey’s uncle!


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