The First Negroni of Spring

Technically, I’ve already had a Negroni this year, but drinking them indoors when it’s still under 40 degrees outside just isn’t the same.

My very first Negroni ever was at an outdoor cafe in Milan ten years ago, and every one since has taken me back there. The Negroni is a simple drink: equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Like many other cocktails, the birth of the Negroni has many stories. One of them has its creation in Italy, in 1919, when a bartender in a Florence hotel made one for the flamboyant Count Camillo Negroni, a man’s man who made his living as a rodeo cowboy in America before returning to Italy.

For more history of the drink and its variations (legend has it, Count Negroni had asked his Florentine bartender for an Americano — Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda — with gin instead of soda), read Gary Regan’s San Francisco Chronicle story on the cocktail from 2009.

The Negroni you see above and at left was enjoyed at a sidewalk table at Park Slope’s Bar Toto. When the sun hit the orange slice with the Campari and ice in the glass, I thought to myself, spring is here.

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