The Negroni is an acquired taste and few people love it the first time they try it. Bitter and funky tasting, the Negroni stands apart from many cocktails, which tend to be either fruity or distinctly alcoholic. The problem is, once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.
Living in Italy it is easy to get hooked on Negronis for the simple reason that it is the only cocktail that many Italians know how to make well. Italy does not have much of a cocktail culture — although this is changing, especially in the north — but the one cocktail you can be sure they won’t mess up is the quintessentially Italian Negroni. The fact that it is composed of equal parts of three simple ingredients doesn’t hurt…
Although a straightforward Negroni is a thing of beauty in its own right, especially with the right vermouth, the Budapest Negroni is truly extraordinary. The first special twist comes from the Earl Grey-infused gin, which adds a particular richness to the drink. The bergamot in the Earl Grey combines beautifully with the juniper in the gin, offering a taste sensation that will keep you coming back. To make this, simply put loose-leaf Earl Grey tea in a small glass, fill with gin (Gordon’s is fine for this, but go no cheaper) and leave it to steep at room temperature for two hours.
The second special twist comes with a final smoking once the three ingredients have been combined. This required a smoker of sorts — I use the Smoking Gun, which works for any kind of food and drink smoking. The result is a layered, sophisticated cocktail that begs to be savored slowly.
- 1 part Earl-Grey infused gin
- 1 part Campari
- 1 part sweet vermouth (Punt e Mes is great for this)
This drink can be served up or on the rocks. My preferred way of doing this is to combine all the ingredients into a large crystal decanter and then add the smoke. Then, I put the decanter in the freezer and leave it there.
Serve with orange wedge or peel as garnish.