The Negroni turns 100: this is its story

The Negroni, a historic cocktail born in Florence, turns 100: we tell you its story and the people who have made it famous over time.

The most international of Italian cocktails is one hundred years old, among the most sold (and drunk) in the world.

The Negroni was born in Florence in 1919, where it was designed by Count Camillo to whom it owes its name.a historic cocktail, born in florence in 1919The cosmopolitan noble of Florentine origin had lived in London, Wyoming and New York and was well acquainted with the typical mixing of Anglo-Saxon countries. Certainly in the Big Apple he had had the opportunity to taste the Americano, of which the Negroni is in a sense the version reinforced with gin instead of soda. It was the count, who returned to Florence, who had the happy intuition to propose an American cocktail : this is how the Negroni based on gin, Campari and red vermouth was born. A drink known universally and synonymous with made in Italy, with a far greater allure than the Spritz and a popularity second only to the Old Fashioned.

From Scarselli to Picchi

Legend tells us that a young shop boy, Fosco Scarselli, who worked at Casoni, a grocery store in via de ‘Tornabuoni, put the Count’s idea into practice . In that same place, a few years later Caffè Giacosa was to be opened , later supplanted in more recent times by Roberto Cavalli’s boutique with adjoining bar. Now there is no trace of Giacosa after the closure of Cavalli: only the Giorgio Armani boutique remains. Fortunately, an army of bartenders and enthusiasts keep up the name of the Negroni in the world. In Florence, the authority on the matter is Luca Picchi , who has even written a book on the subject for Giunti: Negroni Cocktail, an Italian legend . Picchi, behind the counter of theCaffè Gilli (another historical place in Florence), offers its Negroni and the infinite variations that have been created around the world and collected in his book.

The character of the Count

While he expertly doses gin, Campari and red vermouth according to the classic recipe ” a third, a third, a third “, he tells the story of the count. A character that seems straight out of a novel: cowboy, fencing master, gambler .the distinctive element of negroni is certainly the orange sliceIn Florence he did not go unnoticed driving one of the first cars that circulated in the city, very elegant with his top hat. It was easy to see him sitting for a drink, from the Casoni counter to the table in the Grand Hotel (now St Regis). An avid drinker as Fosco Scarselli himself recalled many years later in an interview from the 1960s: “ There were days that he could swallow up to forty drinks, yet I never saw him drunk ”. The secret, perhaps, was in the size of the glass: the cordial glass and not the tumbler that is usually used today. To distinguish the cocktail, for sure, the orange slice . A sort of signature of the count himself. “ that time it was a real luxury and a way to stand out, since before him everyone only put a little lemon zest ”underlines Picchi.

Variations on the theme

From Florence the fame of the drink began to spread rapidly: at first as an American in the manner of Count Negroni , but soon simply as Negroni. In the 1940s, as told by the King of the Negroni Mauro Mahjoub (bartender and teacher, founder of the Negroni Bar in Munich in 1998), traces of the drink can be found in the Floridita recipe book in Cuba in 1939 with the name Negrone , and in 1949 it is mentioned in a Spanish book.

Over the years the Negroni has been the subject of numerous variations on the theme : from the Cardinal of the Hotel Excelsior in Rome in 1950 where the red Martini is replaced with the Dry to the famous Negroni wrong by Mirko Stocchetto of the Bar Basso in via Plinio in Milan: Brut sparkling wine takes the place of Gin. Mahjoub instead created the Negrosky with vodka instead of gin and the Tegroni based on Tequila. For the centenary in Florence they organized a round table as part of the Florence Cocktail Weekto pay homage to the masterpiece of Count Negroni, symbol of a Renaissance of Italian-style mixed drinking. All kinds of twists have been created all over the world to remember the figure of the count and a drink that has now become legendary.

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