SHAKEN AND STIRRED

Negroni, a 1919 cocktail, is suddenly the height of fashion again with British drinkers. One part Campari, one part gin and one part red vermouth, this mixture, served with ice and a slice of orange, is fuelling a new cocktail boom. Pub chain Young’s says a demand for the mix was behind a 56 per cent rise in cocktail sales in the past six months. The simplicity of the drink – three ingredients, its eye-catching red colour and bitter sweet taste – have helped increase Negroni’s popularity with younger drinkers, mixologists say.

Considered a perfect aperitif, it is reputed to have been invented in 1919 when Count Camillo Negroni asked a bartender in Florence to make a stiffer version of a local drink favoured by American tourists. The count gave his name to the cocktail and it has remained a classic ever since, inspiring countless variations and gaining popularity in other Western countries. While other cocktails, such as Aperol Spritzer – Prosecco, soda and sometimes gin – are seen as summer tipples, Negroni is more of an all year round drink. It is also easy to make at home and can even be bought ready-mixed in supermarkets.

Jim Slavin, former president of the UK Bartenders Guild, said the cocktail, which gets it bitter taste from Campari, had made a ‘fantastic comeback. The Negroni is a tremendously popular drink at the moment.’ He added: ‘It has never really gone out of fashion but it has been overtaken by more modern cocktails because of the range of mixers and liquors. But more recently people have rediscovered it as they have returned to the classics. The Negroni is very simple and it’s also a wonderful drink. It’s everlasting really.’

Young’s, which runs more than 250 pubs across the UK, said the boost in its cocktails sales has been ‘basically all Negroni.’ Sales of the ‘standout performer’ have risen faster than anything else – including increasingly popular rosé wine and craft ales in the six months to October, they said.

As I’m not a habitual drinker I’m still tempted to experience a Negroni out of curiosity and to keep up with the latest trend, otherwise old age will become a boring burden.

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