Fall Cocktail: The Negroni

This is one of my favorite cocktails, and it’s a classic stand-by that goes well with the new season. There’s no real reason for the negroni to be considered a fall cocktail, other than my own personal memories of the drink, a trio of times that started in the fall and ended before spring. The first was simply a fall afternoon in a New York hotel bar, high above the annoyance of Times Square, waiting for Suzie to arrive. The sun came in through the blinds and it must have been October or early November. In that pocket of time, sipping the first cocktail of the evening, I loved being in New York. The distinctive edge of Campari sharpened the appetite, while the gin and sweet vermouth grounded it with shades of a sweeter martini. We were headed to a burger joint prior to a Madonna concert – the usual routine.

The second time I distinctly recall sipping a negroni was around the holidays at the now-shuttered Brown Derby in downtown Albany. An Anthony Perkins film was on the television in the background. Shadows of California palm trees, echoed by the palms in the entryway, made an incongruous backdrop for my holiday cocktail, garnished with a proper orange twist. Citrus has always reminded me of Christmas – maybe because of the crates of oranges or grapefruits that we used to get in the mail, or a home-made clove-studded orange ornament that shrank as it hung on the Christmas tree. The orange twist is an integral part of the negroni, supplying the essential refreshing scent – and so much of eating and drinking depends on smell.

The third memory was of a homemade version I poured for myself in January, while visiting my brother at my parents’ home. The cold blue evening, and the expansive blanket of snow leading behind the house, framed the table on which the cocktail stood. Bathed in the amber light from an old brass-bottomed lamp, it glowed warmly in flaming hues of red and orange. I sat there, in the living room, trying to recall how exactly fall turned into winter, when the decaying leaves floated away, why the spring took so long to come.

The Negroni

1 part gin

1 part Campari

1 part Sweet vermouth


Garnish with an orange twist (not negotiable)

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