This week is Negroni Week and so, for our Friday feature, we decided to host the 2014 Negroni Awards. This will cover the highlights of the 200+ gins that we have reviewed on SummerFruitCup in the past four years.
Whilst there is a lot of potential innovation in the production of what is perhaps the ultimate aperitif, for reasons of scientific rigour, we decided to use a standardised recipe of equal parts gin, Martini Rosso, and Campari for all of our drinks.
Without further ado, here are the results!
Most intense – given to the gin that makes a Negroni that makes you stand up and take notice.
Big bold full pine and juniper and the gin flavours match the intensity of the herbal vermouth and bitter sweet campari well. Orange or Pink Grapefruit slice or twist would be a great garnish. A Negroni for those who like explosively flavourful version of the drink – like me.
Beginner’s Negroni – one for those who find Campari a tad too bitter and normally can’t drink this cocktail without pulling a series of hilarious faces.
A soft and succulent drink, which is not a bad way for a Negroni novice to first approach the cocktail. Despite this accessibility, there are still an array of interesting flavours for the ardent Negroni fan, although the character is more subtle and less punchy than versions made using some other gins.
Most unusual Negroni – a gin that totally changes the character of the Negroni, whilst still making a cocktail that works.
There’s a good level of bitterness in this drink; it’s also herbally intense and has a long, dry finish. The coconut pops up at the beginning, which works well alongside the initial sweetness that you get from Campari. After your first sip, though, this fades away and, for the rest of the drink, it just provides a creamy layer to the drink, which I quite liked. Not a typical Negroni by any standards, but an interesting twist on one.
Maverick Negroni – a gin that throws away the rule book, whilst still maintaining the Negroni’s distinctive character.
A rather wild Negroni: smoky and dry, with plenty of spice and a hint of agave. Certainly a more contemporary take on the drink, but an excellent and flavourful one, nonetheless.
Best Negroni using Aged Gin – using barrel-aged/yellow/amber gin in a Negroni is a good way to use the spirit, but also gives the cocktail a little something special. This award is for the best that we tried.
Very intense; perhaps a little too sweet with Martini Rosso (which adds a slight note of coconut), so I would recommend using a more bitter vermouth, such as Antica Formula or Sacred Sweet Vermouth. There’s a great, long finish of piney juniper with just a hint of sap. With the more bitter vermouth, this is simply superb.
Best Negroni using Navy Gin – with so many intense flavours, a Negroni sometimes needs a high strength gin to lead the “juniper fight” back; what better than a 57% ABV Navy Gin?
By a whisker…
Superb; perfect bitter/sweet balance, sweet jammy citrus, and hints of dark chocolate. Bold, intense, and delicious. My favourite Navy Negroni.
All-rounder – the award you have been waiting for… Negroni of the Year goes to…
Near perfection as Negronis go – just right in terms of balance: the dryness of the gin, the sweet herbal flavour of the red vermouth and then the deeper, bitter, earthy notes of the Campari are in equilibrium with each other. This is certainly one for the hard-core Negroni fans, or, indeed, anyone who wants to see what all the fuss over this drink is about.
~ Special mentions ~
There are many great gins out there that didn’t get an award, but that still produce wonderful Negronis. Two that definitely need a special mention are:
Only just missing out on the Naval Negroni award this is a clean, crisp and classic cocktail; no Negroni fan would be disappointed with this.
This gin really stands up well to the Campari and makes a lovely Negroni: bittersweet, with an extreme, bitter finish that is rounded off by the rich, succulent fruitiness of the gin. With distinctive notes of peach & plum, this is one of my favourite Negronis.