Behind the Bar: Barrel-Aged Negroni

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If you’ve stopped by during our Social Hour, you may have noticed our barrel-aged cocktails behind the bar. Sure, you may have already have favorite, whether it’s the Manhattan, Sazerac or Way Down South, but we’ve recently added one more libation to the lineup -- Negroni! Here’s what you should know about this iconic drink.

Negroni 101
The Negroni is today’s “it cocktail” but it hasn’t always been that way. History traces the drink back to Florence, Italy in 1919. Legend has it that the iconic cocktail was born when an Italian bartender responded to a patron’s request for a stiffer version of the Americano, a tame mix of Campari, Sweet Vermouth and soda water. The thirsty, spirit-seeking customer went by the name Count Camillo Negroni, a name he had picked up during his time as a rodeo clown in the American West. The drink became his namesake.

For years the Negroni has remained a quiet classic. But throughout the course of the last decade the Negroni has piqued in popularity. The cocktail even has its own dedicated week, called Negroni Week, which was created by Imbibe, and just a few years ago, Campari dubbed 2011 The Year of the Negroni. Today, the classic cocktail is on more menus than ever before. And the Italian drink shows no signs of slowing in popularity.

What’s in a Negroni?
The Negroni is comprised of equal parts gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth. The drink is garnished with an orange twist. This was originally done to signify that it was different from the Americano, which is garnished with lemon. Negroni’s are served on the rocks, poured over ice and served up in an Old Fashioned Glass.

Why Barrel-Aged?
The Negroni is notorious for either being loved or hated for its distinct taste -- it’s quite bitter, and for some palates, too bitter. Aging cocktails in barrels can soften some of the harsh tastes. Barrel-aging allows the premixed drink to develop more flavors over the course of several weeks. The mixture even integrates with the flavors of the cask barrel, which range from oaky and caramel to vanilla.

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