This Mezcal Negroni is a spin on the classic Italian gin, Campari and vermouth cocktail. Smoky agave mezcal gives the drink an earthy richness.
Using mezcal instead of the gin works well because mezcal is as assertive in its flavors as gin is, and both stand up to strong flavors of sweet vermouth and Campari. Mezcal has taken the American market by storm over the past several years as bartenders continue to create a myriad of ways to use this unique spirit in cocktails, with no subsiding in site.
Mezcal: The smokiness and tastes of mezcal can vary depending on the brand, how its made, and what agave is used. It may take some time to land on the one you like. Starting at a good mezcal bar with a knowledgeable bartender where you can sample several brands is a good place to start. Here are some of the ones I like: Montelobos Tobalá, Casamigos Joven, Mezcal El Silencio – Espadin, Bozal Mezcal Ensamble, and Del Maguey.
Campari: This deep-red Italian fruity, yet slightly bitter liquere (or aperitif) is considered an amaro, meaning it belongs to a family of Italian liqueurs, all with a slightly bitter, herbal profiles. Aperol is another popular amaro. Campari was created in Italy in the 1820’s and still to this day, its recipe is a closely-held secret.
Vermouth: This is a key ingredient, so I like to use a good-quality vermouth, like Carpano Antica Formula. This vermouth is full-bodied and flavored with herbs and spices, and lends a dry, barely sweet flavor to the cocktail.
Orange: Rubbing an orange twist around the rim gives the drink a lovely aromatic note.
How to Make a Mezcal Negroni
1. I like to make my negronis in a cocktail shaker, but you can also combine all the ingredients in a glass and stir. Shaking it though gives it a good chill. Combine the mezcal, vermouth and Campari in a cocktail shaker and 3 small ice cubes.
2. Cover and shake until drink in blended and chilled, about 30 seconds.
3. Place 1 large ice cube in a rocks glass. I recommend using one big ice cube (the cool square or spherical ones you'll often see at cocktail bars), as it will take longer to melt and not dilute the cocktail. If you are using the smaller ice cubes usually found in freezers, use three to four.
4. Strain the negroni over the ice. Grab an orange peel for garnish and twist the peel over the glass, to release oils into the drink. Then, place it in the Negroni standing up so that the outer side, or orange side, of the peel is facing you. This will create the most aromatic drink. Cheers!
- Get good quality vermouth and refrigerate it after opening as it has a shelf life. Sweet vermouth will keep in the fridge for about three months.
- The basic formula of a Negroni is one part mezcal (or gin), one part Campari, and one part sweet vermouth. I like to use a little more mezcal and a little less vermouth, but the ratios are easy to remember. And also remember the drink's three components: bitter, sweet, and strong.
Mezcal lends itself to many delicious cocktails. Consider using it for making your favorite Margarita, or replace the vodka to make a Mezcal Mule or a Mezcal Bloody Mary. Fruity cocktails, especially ones with pineapple, will match up nicely with mezcal, as will herbs and savory liquors like sherry.
The negroni is a classic Italian cocktail made with gin, Campari, and vermouth. Campari, a deep red liqueur with a slightly bitter orange taste, is what gives the cocktail its signature color and flavor. It also gets a hint of sweetness from the vermouth. The drink is said to have originated in 1919 in Florence, Italy, when Count Negroni ordered an Americano (Campari, vermouth, soda water) with gin instead of soda water, and the rest is history!
Simply put, mezcal is a spirit distilled from the agave plant and produced in Mexico. Technically, tequila falls under the mezcal umbrella as a sub-category, but typically when we are referring to mezcal, we are talking about the spirit other than tequila that’s known for its signature smoky flavor. Mezcal can come from several species of agave, some plants are harvested wild, while others are farmed. The plants are put into a pit with hot rocks and covered with dirt so they can “bake.” This is the step in the process that infuses mezcal with its smoky flavor. From here the plants are shredded, fermented, and then ultimately distilled.
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- 1 ¼ oz mezcal
- 1 oz, ounce sweet vermouth, such as Carpano Antica Formula
- ¾ oz. Campari
- Orange peel twist, for garnish
- Combine the mezcal, vermouth and Campari in a cocktail shaker and add the ice cubes. Cover and shake until drink in blended and chilled, about 30 seconds.
- Place 1 large ice cube in a rocks glass. Strain then negroni over the ice. Garnish with orange twist and enjoy!