Variations and Substitutions
Although the mezcal Negroni can't swap out any of the ingredients, you can freely modify the style and proportions.
- Experiment with different proportions, adding an extra quarter to half an ounce of mezcal or Campari, aiming to keep approximately three ounces of the ingredients in total as you go.
- Include one to two dashes of orange or lemon bitters to emphasize the citrus flavors.
- Different brands of sweet vermouth will affect the taste of the cocktail. Play around with different styles and brands, but absolutely stick with sweet vermouth and avoid any dry vermouths.
- For a slightly sweeter smokey Negroni, add a quarter ounce of simple syrup or orange liqueur.
Feel free to skip the orange peel garnish in favor of one that works for your mezcal Negroni vision board.
- Instead of an orange peel, use an orange ribbon or twist.
- Opt for a lemon peel, ribbon, or twist instead of orange.
- For more robust citrus notes, use a lemon or orange wheel, wedge, or slice.
- Double the citrus notes by using two citrus peels. First, express one orange peel over the drink by twisting the peel between your fingers, running the colorful outside of the peel, not the inner pith, along the rim, before discarding. Express the second orange peel over the glass but leave this peel in the drink as a garnish.
- For a double citrus peel garnish, you can do this with orange, lemon, or both in combination.
- A dehydrated orange or lemon wheel lends a unique and contemporary look.
- A lemon wedge, wheel, or slice adds a similar citrus brightness to the drink.
About the Mezcal Negroni
The mezcal Negroni steers away from the juniper notes of gin in favor of the sultry and smokey essence of mezcal. In 1919, the classic Negroni resulted from a count looking for an Americano with a stronger kick. After falling wickedly in love with the flavor of this bitter and lifegiving cocktail, his family soon started a distillery where they mass-produced the Negroni. With the inevitable growth in popularity of the Negroni, further helped along by a writer who spread the news, it soon became a staple cocktail that, although it's waved in and out of fashion, has never truly left the scene.
Mezcal can seem an odd choice to pair with sweet vermouth and bitter Campari, but the gentle sweetness of the agave in the mezcal creates a balance and taste like no other. Compared to the juniper and pine notes of gin, the complexity of the mezcal completely transforms the Negroni to the point that many may not instantly recognize the relation.
A Smokey Bitterness
If you're hesitant to try a mezcal Negroni, don't hesitate for another minute. The caramel smoke of the alluring mezcal takes this bitter classic to fiery heights. Go ahead and skip the gin this time. It'll still be there for next time.