The legend of the Negroni goes a little something like this: Around 1920, Count Camillo Negroni walked into a bar in Florence, Italy and ordered himself an Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth, soda). The Count must have been having a rough day. Instead of topping his cocktail with fizzy water, he requested something a little stronger. Gin. The equal parts, stirred classic of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth with a twist of orange was born.
Whatever the story is behind this fortuitous afternoon at Caffè Casoni, the Negroni has since become a favorite of bartenders to sip and riff on and coveted by the nerdy cocktail set. You’ve likely had a couple of the Negroni’s more popular variations such as the bourbon-based Boulevardier or an Old Pal with rye whiskey. Easy to make, easy to riff, easy to sip, here are five Negronis in Atlanta worth your while.
Eleanor’s at Muss & Turner’s
Slip behind the cooler door and follow the dark passageway to Eleanor’s speakeasy. While there’s a list of classic cocktails and any number of brown spirits to choose from, we suggest ordering a Mezcal Negroni. The bar gets crafty pairing light and smoky mezcal with the bracing bittersweetness of St. George Bruto Americano (amaro). The result is a well-balanced and bold beauty where neither spirit is lost to the other.
1675 Cumberland Pkwy SE #309, Smyrna. 770-434-1114, mussandturners.com/eleanors.
The Painted Pin
Fancy bowling and a classic Negroni. Our idea of the perfect exercise routine. Beverage director and Bombay Sapphire finalist for “Most Imaginative Bartender” Trip Sandifer doesn’t mess with this cocktail’s success. He leaves the freestyling to you and your bowling skills. Did we mention it’s only $8?
737 Miami Circle NE, Atlanta. 404-814-8736, thepaintedpin.com.
While the Italian Job from Grain is more of a riff on an Americano, the 1860s classic aperitivo is said to have inspired the creation of the Negroni. Remember turning soda water into gin? But rather than give you the straightforward cocktail of Campari, sweet vermouth and soda, the bar takes cues from Count Negroni himself and swaps fizzy water for the effervescent Stiegl-Radler (grapefruit juice and Goldbräu lager). It’s crisp, citrusy and 100% refreshing on a hot day.
856 West Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 404-881-5377, grain-bar.com.
This East Lake bar keeps the classic local using Atlanta’s Old 4th Distillery gin to pair with Campari and sweet vermouth. The gin likens itself to a traditional London dry but uses a sugarcane base giving the spirit a soft, floral touch. This is a smooth Negroni with hints of bitterness.
2371 Hosea L Williams Drive SE, Atlanta. 404-549-8756, poorhendrix.com.
They say everything gets better with age. It’s true because a barrel-aged Negroni is a gorgeous thing. Resting in oak mellows this cocktail out and transforms it into a smooth, luscious libation. The Pinewood fine tunes the classic combining gin and Campari with the richness of Cocchi Torino vermouth and the mint notes of the herbaceous Alpine Amaro Braulio (also aged in oak.) The intense combination settles as it rests but retains a robust flavor with hints of oak from the barrel. A Negroni even a hardcore whiskey drinker will love.
254 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-373-5507, pinewoodtr.com.