Via The New York Times, written by Alex Williams:
At the recent opening party for Grand Banks, a meticulously on-trend oyster bar on an old fishing schooner anchored at Pier 25 in Manhattan, all the colors of summer were on Technicolor display: the gold of the sunset, the steel-blue of the Hudson River and the red of the cocktails.
Yes, red. In every direction, partygoers fashionably clad in the season’s Vans slip-ons and Persol sunglasses could be seen sipping a fiery crimson Negroni, a bitters-based aperitif that is not only a signature cocktail of the restaurant, but also, it seems, of this summer itself.
“It’s like a pink polo shirt,” said Alex Pincus, an owner, who prowled the schooner’s decks that night, Negroni in hand. He explained further, “it’s sort of manly and colorful at the same time.”
Such enthusiasm for the Negroni is evident at craft cocktail bars, beach clubs and rooftop bars alike, where stylish tipplers have embraced this venerable Italian concoction as a latter-day Cosmo for the artisanal set.
The Negroni may look to the uninitiated like the stuff of Cancún spring-break frolics, with its Hawaiian Punch hue and festive shard of orange peel. But in classic form, it is a serious libation: a blend of Campari, gin and sweet vermouth with complex personality and unapologetic bitter finish that challenges you to love it.
The Negroni has also become a fashion statement of sorts for connoisseurs — a pledge of allegiance to la dolce vita, and a secret signal to fellow cognoscenti that you do not stoop to sozzle yourself in the fashion of the daiquiri-sipping masses.
Its nuance, in fact, is the basis of its charm, devotees say.
“The Negroni has this wonderful limpidity that few other cocktails contain: it’s cool without being too cold, and the mouth feel has this wonderful silk quality,” said Aaron Von Rock, the wine director at Lincoln Ristorante at Lincoln Center, which did its part to kick-start the current Negroni infatuation with a create-your-own Negroni bar featuring dozens of alternatives to the drink’s Holy Trinity of ingredients (a “training wheels” version for neophytes, for instance, features apple bitters, Lillet and blood-orange vodka).
The resurgence of the Negroni, a favorite of noted thinkers (and drinkers) like Kingsley Amis and Orson Welles, has been brewing for at least five years, said Jonathan Miles, the novelist and the former cocktail columnist for The New York Times.
Lately, it has reached the point that seemingly every self-respecting foodie haunt is expected to offer a signature Negroni (Parm, in SoHo, serves a beet version), if not a menu of them (see I Sodi in the West Village).
Pinterest boards are brimming with recipes of the ever-photogenic cocktail in seemingly infinite variations — the blood-orange Negroni; the amber Negroni, with amaro; the pomegranate Negroni; not to mention its first cousins the Boulevardier (mixed with bourbon) or the Americano (club soda). (Then there’s the popular Negroni Sbagliato at Grand Banks, which substitutes prosecco for gin.)
Will mass acceptance poison the esoteric air that helped propel the Negroni to prominence? During Negroni Week in June, a lounge in Los Angeles, the Varnish, whipped up Negroni Jell-O shots.
Cheeky, sure. But also, perhaps, a perilous step toward the Appletini.