Most accounts say the Negroni is based on the Americano, with Campari as the featured ingredient in all of its bitter, bright red glory. The Negroni is what happens when the Americano gets more American, and by that I mean dumping the soda and adding more booze. Unfortunately, gaps in the timeline and sparse written evidence make it difficult to have a nice clean evolutionary trail from the Americano to the Negroni. We have the invention of Campari in 1860 and the appearance of the Americano in the late 19th and early 20th century, originally with just bitters not necessarily Campari. There is also the supposed creation of the Negroni in 1919 and the notable omission of Negroni recipes until the 1950s, when dare we say, James Bond might have had a hand in popularizing it? Factor in cocktails with identical ingredients and different names appearing in recipe books in the 1920s and 1930s and you have yourself a nice little fruit punch colored puzzle. That doesn’t even include the conflicting claims of inventing the cocktail!
A number of parties want credit for creating the Negroni, and since they all have the last name Negroni this should be easy to pull apart, right? Was it Count Pascal Olivier de Negroni presenting a cheap wedding gift to his new bride in Senegal? Was it created by the Negroni Antica Distilleria? Or is it a product of a wealthy Italian Count? This tends to be the favored origin story. Following his stint playing cowboy, riding horses and gambling in the American West, Count Camillo Negroni returned to Italy. Wanting a bit more kick to his Americano cocktail, he told the bartender to spice it up with some gin and the Negroni was born. Sounds simple and believable, but did he really create it or just popularize the drink of a Florentine barman named Fosco? Either way, we might be looking at a bartender doing what they do best, adding more alcohol to drinks and making them taste good.
In addition to unraveling the origin story of the Negroni and the life of a cowboy count, we explore the attempts to spread democracy throughout Europe after the successful American Revolution and Giuseppe Garibaldi and his role in the unification of Italy. Like many Europeans, 19th century Italians looked to America for a better, fleeing from war, famine, poverty, and volcanic eruptions. We also dive into the Italian influence in the American West and a possible connection to Spaghetti westerns.
So grab a Fosco, and join us for our discussion of the Negroni and the Americano.
The Americano ingredients were as follows:
Transition music: Cephalopod by Kevin MacLeod
Closing Music: La Traviati Brindisi by Verdi