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Stir Up Some Fun During Negroni Week


Cocktail lovers know that there are few pleasures that match a well-made Negroni. It is also one of the simplest drinks to mix: Stir equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth with ice. Garnish with orange peel.

For Jeret Peña of the Last Word and the Brooklynite, the end result is magic. “The Negroni is my favorite cocktail, hands down,” he says. I couldn’t agree more.

That’s why Peña and many of the rest of us are ready to celebrate Negroni Week, which runs June 1-7 this year.

A Negroni

A Negroni

The fact that this event, sponsored by Imbibe magazine and Campari, raises money for charity only makes the week more inviting.

The rules couldn’t be much easier: You buy a Negroni from the participating bar of your choice, and the bar, in turn, donates $1 to the charity of its choice.

According to the event’s website, “From 2013 to 2014, Negroni Week grew from more than 100 participating bars to more than 1,300 participating bars around the world and more than $120,000 raised for charities.”

This year’s list is growing, with the following San Antonio bars taking part and the charities that they’re raising money for:

Alchemy Kombucha & Culture
1123 N. Flores
NowCastSA

Arcade Midtown Kitchen
303 Pearl Pkwy.
WINGS

Bar Du Mon Ami
4901 Broadway, Suite 130
Pets Alive

Barbaro
2720 McCullough Ave.
Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Blue Box
312 Pearl Pkwy.
Wounded Warriors

Esquire Tavern
155 E. Commerce St.
The Children’s Shelter

George’s Keep
17101 La Cantera Pkwy.
Wounded Warriors

Piatti
555 E. Basse Road
Texas Science and Engineering Fair

Piatti at The Eilan
17803 La Cantera Terrace
Texas Science & Engineering Fair

Silo Oyster Terrance
22211 I-10 W.
Wounded Warriors

The Green Lantern
20626 Stone Oak Pkwy.
Humane Society

The Hoppy Monk
1010 N. Loop 1604 E.
Eco Life

The Last Word
229 E. Houston St.
GBS | CIDP Foundation International

Once again, this list is growing. So, if you don’t see your favorite bar on the list, ask for a Negroni anyway. You’ll enjoy the drink and you might be helping a charity.

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Forget Your Martinis. Negroni Week Is Coming.


If you have a taste for classic cocktails, it doesn’t get much better than a Negroni, an alchemical blend of equal parts gin, vermouth rosso and Campari with a twist of orange.

The Negroni

The Negroni

The history of this beauty has been questioned through the years, but the most popular story is that an Italian nobleman and rodeo cowboy, Count Negroni, ordered an Americano but with gin instead of soda. (For more, click here.)

The rest, as they say, is cocktail history. Until last year, that is. That’s when Imbibe magazine launched Negroni Week as a way of showcasing a classic cocktail while raising money for charity.

This year, hundreds of bars across the country and many in countries throughout the world have joined in the fun event, which runs June 2-8.

The rules are simple: Each participating bar will donate part of the proceeds from the sale of each Negroni to the charity of its choice.

In San Antonio, the list of participants includes:

  • Bar du Mon Ami, 4901 Broadway for San Antonio Pets Alive
  • Blue Box, 312 Pearl Parkway, for Ronald McDonald House of Central Texas
  • Brooklynite San Antonio Cocktail Parlor, 516 Brooklyn Ave. HeartGift Foundation
  • Bohanan’s Restaurant and Bar, 221 E. Houston St., for Chefs for Chefs San Antonio
  • Cured, 306 Pearl Parkway, for Team Gleason: Lets Put Our Heads Together and Find a Cure for ALS
  • Lüke San Antonio, 125 E. Houston St., for Little Patch Garden
  • The Esquire Tavern, 155 E. Commerce St., for The Children’s Shelter – San Antonio
  • Tribeca di Olmos, 4331 McCullough, for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

More might be added before the start. Click here for the fill list of participants.

In the interest of disclosure, I’ll admit I’m biased. The Negroni is my favorite, and I’ll be out there doing my part for charity.

 

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The Negroni: A Beautifully Bitter Answer to Sweet Cocktails


A Negroni

I worked up an appetite for Campari earlier this summer when I visited Italy. This bitters, with the bright red color, is an apéritif, an herb-infused alcohol served largely before dinner as a means of working up your appetite for food.

It was one of several herbal and vegetal intoxicants that cast its spell over me, and I loved trying various amari as well as Cynar, an artichoke-based drink that went well with a splash of peach soda. I’m not fond of overly sweet cocktails, such as cosmos or the various candied martinis that are all too common nowadays. So, the bracingly bitter difference that these alcohols  brought to cocktails made them a pleasure to sip and study.

I realize that you won’t find Cynar at every bar in town — perhaps not any bar in town, though I have seen it at Twin Liquors, Saglimbeni and Spec’s for about $27 a bottle. Campari, however, is a little more popular (and it’s also priced around $27 a bottle).  It’s usually tucked in with the other supposedly weird bottles, with labels bearing names such as Pimm’s No. 1 and Drambouie, all of which were purchased by the bar manager who was there three or four years ago and they were promptly turned to dust catchers after he  moved on to another job.

And that bottle of Campari generally means I can get a Negroni, though, more often than not, I have had to explain (and occasionally explain several times again) what is in this classic drink.

Not familiar with this crazy red beauty? It’s been around for close to a century, according to Wikipedia, and in all that time, its recipe hasn’t changed: It’s equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari with an orange twist. What could be simpler, right?

Well, in an age when classic cocktails are precociously trendy and bartenders prize themselves on being able to layer a true Ramos gin fizz or  whip up a whiskey sour with egg white, getting a Negroni has not been easy. A few bartenders have refused to make any drink they’ve never heard of. One bartender seemed to believe that those three liquors should not be mixed together, because I was served each separately and left to mix my own.

A Negroni at Zinc

Kudos to the folks at the Havana and at Bohanan’s Bar for knowing how to make a Negroni properly without asking questions. And thanks go to the bartenders at Zinc, the bar at Oro in the Emily Morgan and the Blue Box because they at least asked what was in the cocktail, listened and then made one to order. The recipe is so easy that most tasted just like they did at home, though I suspect a dash or two of bitters might have been splashed into one or two for a little added spark of flavor, though the blend of herbs and spices in Campari offers quite an explosion on their own.

You can vary the recipe. I found one cocktail book that made a Vodka Negroni, substituting vodka for what the author referred to as the medicinal quality that she detects in gin. My counterargument is that you can at least taste something in gin; I still haven’t found much need for vodka because I don’t need alcohol that badly to settle for something flavorless. (She also uses more vodka than Campari and vermouth, which is shifting the focus in the wrong direction, as far as I’m concerned, but chacun à son goût, as the French say.)

That probably explains where the lighter appeal of the Americano comes in. This cocktail, which actually predates the Negroni, uses club soda instead of gin, leaving you with a fizzy mix of bitter, herbal Campari and lightly sweet, fruity vermouth. Trivia fans will know of the Americano because it is the first cocktail ordered by James Bond in the novel, “Casino Royal,” according to About.com.

So, during the waning days of summer (as least I like to think it’s waning), try something a little different to take the edge off the heat.

For more Campari cocktail recipes, click here.

Negroni
1 part gin
1 part red or rosso vermouth
1 part bitters, such as Campari

Pour into a shaker with plenty of ice. Shake until cold. Pour into a rocks class, ice and all. Garnish with an orange peel twist. Some like to strain the drink into a chilled martini glass.

From John Griffin

Vodka Negroni

1 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
Splash of Perrier (optional)
Lemon twist

Fill cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add vodka, Campari and vermouth. Stir and strain into glass over ice cubes. Add optional Perrier. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “Modern Cocktails & Appetizers” from Martha Gill

Americano

1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3 ounces club soda

In a highball glass filled with ice, pour in Campari and vermouth. Stir. Add club soda and stir.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “Pink Panther Cocktail Party” by Adam Rocke


 

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Cocktail Conference Shakes It Up for a Good Cause


Rob Gourley of San Antonio makes a Philly Smash with rye, lime, Averna, simple syrup, berries and mezcal at the Esquire Tavern.

By the time the last drop of vodka had been poured, the last cube of ice chipped and the last mint garnish bruised, the inaugural San Antonio Cocktail Conference could be classified a success.

Adrian Sarabia of San Antonio uses Ranger Creek White in his White and Red.

The four-day event, which included everything from what could affectionately be dubbed “booze cruises” along the river to Sunday brunch, attracted hundreds. Several of the seminars, on topic ranging from ice to making cocktails at home, sold out, all offering the promise of a great future for the event.

The best news of all was the event, planned as a fundraiser for the San Antonio charity HeartGift, raised enough money to pay for the costs associated with the heart surgeries of two children from countries where the proper treatment is either unavailable or inaccessible. The surgical fees are donated by the doctors, but there are costs associated with flying the children in and taking care for them during their recuperation.

Houston Eaves of Austin makes a 3-Piece Suit with Fernet, Campari and Punt e Mes.

Saturday brought a cocktail competition in which more than 30 contestants had to prepare an original cocktail that was judged on taste, presentation and execution. The grand prize winner was John Lermayer from the Florida Room in Miami, followed by Jake Corney of Bohanan’s, which is where the contest was held, and Charles Shelton of Austin.

Lermayer named his winning cocktail Have a Heart and promised HeartGift executive director Cathy Siegel that he would be donating some of his winnings to the charity.

Saturday evening brought a crowd of cocktail lovers to the Esquire Tavern. Along the longest bar in Texas, mixologists whipped up specialty drinks that featured drinks such as Texas spirits, including Ranger Creek White and Tito’s Vodka as well as absinthe, mezcal, the Italian vermouth Punt e Mes, and digestifs such as Averna and Campari. Spray cans of bitters were also used by several to finish off their cocktails.

Wonderful flavors, all, and a great reason to raise a toast to a successful launch of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

 

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The Mojito Gets a Fall Makeover


CampariMojitoMojito Italiano

This cocktail, created by Arturo Sighinolfi, director of development and mixology at SWS Miami, takes the classic mojito and gives it a fall makeover.

4 mint sprigs, divided use
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Campari
1 1/2 ounces Flor de Cana Rum or white rum
1 ounce Prosecco

Muddle 3 mint sprigs, syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker.  Add ice to fill, then pour in Campari and rum. Shake and pour.  Top with Prosecco and garnish with remaining mint sprig.

From Arturo Sighinolfi/Campari

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Dance the Night Away With a Ginger Rogers


GingerRogersLooking for a cooling cocktail to enjoy on these last days of summer? Try a Ginger Rogers, named after the famous dancer. It was originally served at Social Hollywood in Los Angeles and created by mixologist Jason Lara.

Ginger Rogers

1 whole strawberry, sliced
5 pieces of clementine
2 ounces Campari
3 ounces of orange juice
Splash of 7UP
Powdered ginger

Muddle the strawberry and fresh clementine.  Add ice and pour Campari, orange juice, and a splash of 7UP into a cocktail shaker.  Sprinkle a pinch of powdered ginger on top of the ingredients.  Shake well and strain onto the rocks in a highball glass.  Garnish with a pansy and serve.

From Campari.

Shake ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist and a fresh basil leaf.

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