Every alcoholic beverage has its own holiday these days, but not many drinks can claim an entire week to themselves. Then again, many bartenders will tell you that the Negroni—an Italian cocktail that’s traditionally made with gin, sweet vermouth, Campari and an orange peel—isn’t like most libations.

And so that’s why all week long, more than 6,000 bars and restaurants around the world have been serving up their own spins on the Negroni to raise money for charity. Since Campari launched Negroni Week in 2013, participating venues have raised almost $900,000 for various causes, and thousands of thirsty patrons have gone home happy, too. (See the full list of participating venues here.)

But what makes the Negroni so special? To find out, we asked some of the country’s best bartenders to share their first experiences with the cocktail, reveal how it changed their careers and lives and of course, offer their personal favorite recipes.


THE BARTENDER: NATASHA DAVID
THE BAR: NITECAP, NEW YORK CITY
The story: “I grew up spending a lot of time in Italy. My parents are both classical musicians, and after their concerts we would always go out with the rest of the musicians and singers. I remember the grown-ups always sipping on a mysterious red cocktail. When I started drinking alcohol I was known to drink extra sweet Amaretto Sours—never in a million years would I think that I would be drinking what I drink today.

“After years of dive-bar bartending and cocktail waitressing in night clubs, I got my first gig at a cocktail bar. That’s where I was introduced to classic cocktails. I remember sitting down for a training on the Negroni, thinking ‘I will never like this.’ I hesitatingly took my first sip and quickly went for another. The orangey-bitterness of the Campari (and by the way, I now love all things bitter!) was perfectly balanced by the floral notes of gin and the savory sweetness of the vermouth. And now, 10 years later, it’s still a go-to cocktail for me.”

Good Old Days


• 0.75 oz Campari
• 2 oz dry Rosé Wine
• 0.75 oz Cocchi Rosa
• 0.5 oz Strawberry Shrub (see below)
• 2 oz Sparkling Wine

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a vintage wine goblet with ice. Stir and garnish with 3 pickled Strawberries.

Strawberry Shrub


• 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
• 2 cups Water
• 2 cups Sugar
• 1 pint Strawberries

Directions

Blend the Apple Cider Vinegar, Water and Strawberries in a blender until Strawberries are emulsified. Strain the mixture. Return to blender, add the sugar, and blend until sugar has dissolved. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Pickled Strawberries


• 1 Pint Strawberries (hulled)
• 1.5 Cups Sherry Vinegar
• ¼ Cup Sugar
• 2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
• 3 Whole Star Anise

Directions

Place Strawberries in a 1-quart heatproof Jar. In a saucepan, combine the Vinegar, Salt, Sugar and Star Anise, and stir until sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour hot mixture over Strawberries. Let cool, cover and refrigerate. Let sit at least 24 hours before using.


THE BARTENDER: RAEL PETIT
THE BAR: LOT 45, NEW YORK CITY
The story: “My first Negroni was at a pool bar in Lugano when I was 18. This was my first introduction to a bitter cocktail. When I first moved to New York 15 years ago it was mostly consumed by European tourists, but now it’s one of the most common cocktail order I get. As a bartender, it’s always an exciting time when Negroni Week comes around every year. It’s campaigns like this one that make my job so rewarding. For the $1,000 Negroni, all proceeds will be going to Muttville, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of senior dogs. Muttville rescues senior dogs and finds them new homes.”

The World’s Most Expensive Negroni

• 1 oz. Campari
• 1 oz. Gran Patrón Platinum
• 1 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth

Directions

Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass for 20 seconds and strain into rocks glass over 1 large ice cube. Topped with rare black truffle, custom-made Campari caviar, edible platinum flakes, and a smoked edible flower.


THE BARTENDER: CODY GOLDSTEIN
THE BAR: THE HORNY RAM (NEW YORK CITY)
The story: “My first Negroni was ordered by a bartender who I asked to surprise me with their favorite cocktail. In a way, they were paying it forward because now it has become one of my go to-orders. I love the perfect balance of sweet, bitter, citrus and has allowed me to play off of those flavor profiles in other cocktails. I will always recommend a variation of a Negroni for anyone who is looking to be adventurous and this has allowed me to constantly grow as a bartender by staying creative.”

The Pony Negroni

• 1.75 oz. Gin
• 0.75 oz. Sweet Vermouth
• 0.75 oz. Campari
• .25 oz. Vanilla infused Creme De Cacao
• 3 dashes Mole Bitters

Directions

Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 7 seconds then strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a long lemon peel and a mini pony.


THE BARTENDER: ERIK CASTRO
THE BAR: POLITE PROVISIONS, SAN DIEGO
The story: “Early in my career, I remember reading about Negronis and seeing them all around, and I knew it was a cocktail that I was supposed to like. My first Negroni was from a bar near the capitol building in midtown Sacramento where politicians would visit to enjoy a well-made classic cocktail. I wish I could say it was love at first sight, the color of the cocktail makes you think it will be playful, but I wasn’t prepared for the bitterness in the flavor. Since then, I’ve grown to love the cocktail and it’s become a part of my life.

Negronis taught me that not every flavor is going to be easy, and sometimes it’s best to gradually learn to work with certain flavors and concepts. I always push our staff to let guests know what they are ordering. If we’re reaching for a bitter flavor, we want the guests to understand where that flavor balances in the cocktail.”

The Steel Horse

• 1 oz. High West Silver Whiskey Western Oat
• 1 oz. Lillet Rose
• 1 oz. Campari
• .25 oz. Giffard Pamplemousse

Directions

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass over ice for 20 seconds and strain into a double old-fashioned glass over ice. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.


THE BARTENDER: MIA MASTROIANNI
THE BAR: SOHO HOUSE, LOS ANGELES
The story: “I wish I remembered my first Negroni, but had I known then that it would come to be one of my favorite cocktails I certainly would have paid more attention! I vaguely recall the cocktail gaining popularity and then as if overnight, suddenly everyone around me was drinking them. I will say that it is definitely an acquired taste. At first sip, you’re taken aback by the bitterness; almost medicinal. But I do know that after I finished my first one, I immediately wanted a second. And then I was hooked.

“I know for certain I was already obsessed with the classic by Negroni Week 2014, because that’s the year I think I attended every event in Los Angeles that paid homage to my favorite drink, and that has subsequently become a tradition I look forward to every year. I was introduced to variations of the cocktail, Negroni ice cream, and my very first frozen Negroni. Again, I wish I could remember my first, or even who served me my first, but I take a certain level of pride in introducing friends and bar guests to their first Negronis.

“In terms of how the Negroni has impacted my career, I think it perfectly illustrates how being well-versed in the classics is crucial for any bartender. It’s important to understand and respect the history of our industry so we can appreciate how it has evolved and where it is going as trends continue to unfold. Though I don’t think the Negroni is going anywhere anytime soon. As for variations, these days my go-tos are the classic Boulevardier or a smoky Mezcal Negroni, though I’ve also been enjoying infusing sweet vermouth with coffee beans for a bolder version of the traditional Negroni.”

The Coffee Negroni

• 1 oz. Gin
• 1 oz. Campari
• 1 oz. Coffee Infused Sweet Vermouth*

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir with ice and strain into a coupe, or into a rocks glass over a large cube. Express an orange peel over the top and drop in to garnish. For Coffee Infused Sweet Vermouth, combine 375 ml of Sweet Vermouth and 2 scoops lightly crushed coffee beans, allowing the mixture to marinate overnight, shaking occasionally. Strain.


THE BARTENDER: JACQUES BZUIDENHOUT
THE BAR: WILDHAWK, SAN FRANCISCO
The story: “I grew up in South Africa around Campari so the bittersweet deliciousness of Campari was familiar to me. I am pretty sure I made a few Negronis in London without really thinking about the cocktail in the late 90s. But it was in San Francisco where I fell in love with the Negroni. It was early on in my bartending career probably around 18 years ago. San Francisco has a rich tradition of Italian restaurants and drinks so the Negroni was always served in this city before the cocktail boom. I just remember sitting down to this cocktail and it took me to another place. The Negroni fit right in a city like San Francisco, but it transported me to somewhere in Italy. The balance of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth was captivating and right there I was hooked and have spent the last 18 years being transported to another place while sipping on a Negroni.”

The Breakfast Negroni

• 1 oz. Beefeater*
• 1 oz. Campari*
• 1 oz. Cinzano 1757 Vermouth*
• Dashes of Chocolate Salt Bitters (housemade at Wildhawk)

Directions

Stir with ice in a mixing glass. Strain over fresh ice into a small bowl. Garnish with orange discs (use small cookie cutters for shapes). * Infused in Coco Puffs


THE BARTENDER: JOSH CAMPBELL
THE BAR: LEYENDA, NEW YORK CITY
The story: “The first Negroni experience happened when I was barely getting settled into being a 21-year-old troublemaker when I was living in Rochester, New York. It was when I was beginning to take up cocktails as an interest and was trying to make the classics at home. At the time the bartending scene was only beginning to develop there and I was so intrigued by it all that I was eager to get familiar with the classics that the bartenders were so passionate about.

“I was a patron at this magical bar called Cure which was a unique space that I fell in love with because it also operated as a cute and quaint cafe that I worked at during the daylight hours. At night the space became this amazing spot where you can get a killer French dinner and amazing drinks that were completely tailored to your tastes and even later in the night had a DJ that would completely turn the place out. The bartender on this particular night was Caitlin Graham, who is an amazing human and opened me up to the Negroni. Me being this completely naive 21-year-old sits right in front of her on a busy Saturday night patiently waiting my turn to place an order for a drink … which, like many 21-year-olds in a cocktail bar, have no fucking clue what they want.

“‘What are you having hun?’ My eyes and brain scramble, naturally, and in the heat of the moment I give the one response that every bartender either loves or hates: “make me your favorite drink!” I don’t remember her response exactly, but I do remember the smirk. She fashionably jiggers out the red stuff, more red stuff, the clear stuff and stirs and strains into a rocks glass with ice. She places it on the coaster in front of me and then quickly attends to the crowd waiting behind me.

“I excitedly took the first sip and then very quickly realized that this was like nothing I had before. I almost hated it. I could barely stomach it coming from a recent first cocktail experience at that time which was a Sidecar, which is definitely on the other side of the spectrum. I did finish it though, only because I feared looking like a wuss in front of this bartender who I admired so much. I definitely acquired a taste for bitter that night!”

The Unigroni

• 1.25 oz. Appleton Signature Blend
• .75 oz. Campari
• .5 oz. Cinzano Bianco
• .5 oz. Lime Juice
• 1 Bonita Biz (a proprietary ingredient of mine at Leyenda with mango, vanilla, coconut yogurt)

Directions

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake with ice. Fine strain into a rocks glass over a large butterfly pea tea ice cube.


THE BARTENDER: CHAD MICHAEL GEORGE
THE BAR: THE WAY BACK, DENVER
The story: “My first Negroni was made for me by Ted Kilgore. We worked together in St. Louis at a fine dining restaurant called Monarch (RIP 2012.) At the time, I was the Assistant GM and Wine Director. Ted was the first person to really introduce me to true cocktails, including all of the classics. We started working together in 2007 and the Pegu Club and Negroni were the first two drinks he ever made for me and it was love at first taste. I’ve been a Negroni drinker ever since.”

Red Light Negroni

• 1 oz. Bols Genever
• 1 oz. Campari
• 1 oz. Cocchi Torino

Directions

Build all ingredients in a mixing glass, and stir with ice until chilled. Strain into a hollowed-out light bulb (or a glass) and garnish with an expressed orange peel.


THE BARTENDER: DAMON BOELTE
THE BAR: GRAND ARMY, NEW YORK CITY
The story: “My favorite friends are the ones who I can’t actually remember meeting. When asked ‘how did you two meet?,’ we look at each other, and have the damnedest time recalling. We were just all of a sudden friends, and have been ever since. The Negroni is that cocktail for me. I know we met sometime in my early 20s back in Oklahoma when I first started bartending, but can’t pinpoint the occasion. It was just meant to be.”

Last Night at Luke’s

• 1 oz. Avua Amburana
• 1 oz. Bruto Americano
• 1 oz. Cocchi vermouth

Directions

Stir all ingredients over ice for 20 seconds and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Serve with grapefruit twist.


Pam

Pam

THE BARTENDER: PAM WIZNITZER, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. BARTENDER’S GUILD
THE BAR: SEAMSTRESS, NEW YORK CITY
The story: “My first Negroni was back in 2011-12 when I attended a gin seminar. We played a cocktail guessing game of gin cocktails, where we tried sample sizes without knowing what they were. I remember seeing the bold, red color and tasting the bitterness of one of the drinks. I had no clue what it was, but knew I loved whatever was happening in that glass. It was love at first Negroni.”

Strawberry Fields

• 1 Campari
• 1 Strawberry-Infused Cinzano Bianco
• 1 Mezcal
• Rosemary Sprig

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir for 20 seconds; serve over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a sprig of Rosemary.