M's Campari Cocktail

What started as
a way to connect with my son-in-law became a fun journey of exploration. I love playing host. Normally it's all about the food I am offering, but suddenly I began to add a pre-dinner delight, a cocktail. It has become a fun addition to my hosting duties.

And I have begun to enjoy the science of it all. I am always trying new-to-me cocktail recipes. Some are keepers - some don't hit the mark - but it's a fun way anyway, and a great conversation opener.  I have one friend from Toronto that's in town every two to three months. Cocktail tasting has definitely become a regular part of our pre-dinner ritual. 

I had never heard of a Negroni until someone posted an image of theirs at a local restaurant. I looked it up and it sounded pretty simple. It also said it was a bitter drink, so I was intrigued. I love sour drinks - would I love a bitter one?  I love the story that it originated at Caffe Casoni, in Florence, Italy, inspired by a request from Count Camillo Negroni. You can read the full story HERE

The classic Negroni is created with equal parts of Gin, Sweet Vermouth (I only had dry Vermouth so went with that) and Campari Bitters mixed in a glass. Ice is added and then you stir until it is cold. Then you strain into a cocktail glass and accent with a fresh orange peel or slice.  Sorry, too much work for me. A good shake in the shaker to chill it thoroughly and melt some of the ice, then I poured it into on the rocks glasses filled with ice.  I found it too bitter for me. My husband said the same. 

The beauty of making your own cocktails is you can play with the ingredients to make it your own. I wanted to keep the bitter notes, but soften and downplay them a bit.  My husband and I decided on what adjustments to make - we added fresh squeezed orange juice and a small amount of simple syrup.It was better but not totally right yet. So the next night I stopped and bought the Rosso Vermouth which they assured me was Sweet Vermouth and tried again.  Success. 

The final recipe below keeps the bitter note of the classic Negroni at the end, but softens it with early notes of sweet and fruit. .Remember, bitter is not the same as sour, so this drink won't be everyone's cuppa. But I enjoyed it so much I sent the recipe to my son-inlaw.  Enjoy!

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M's Campari Cocktail


1 ounce Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Martini Rossa Vermouth (Sweet Vermouth)
1 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 half-slice of orange (make it a thick slice)
Note - you can sub dry Vermouth. The drink will be less sweet, a lighter color and definitely more bitter.

Instructions - 

Add the Gin, Campari, Vermouth, orange juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker half full of ice. Shake vigorously until very cold (don't rush this part). Strain into an on-the-rock glass filled with ice. Insert a thick orange slice into the drink (between the ice cubes and standing on end). 

Sip this cocktail slowly as it mellows as the ice melts.