I stepped out on the porch this sultry morning to a cacophonous chorus of cicadas announcing their much vaunted, but overdue, arrival this Summer. Their grating cries were welcome in their own way, since I had casually planned on mowing the lawn this afternoon. It has been exceptionally humid this week, but the moisture has stayed in the air so the ground is dry and the grass doesn’t really need the trim I had planned. No matter, our lately molted insect white noise generators tend to make mowing impractical if not impossible. They home in on any competing monotonous drone with a ferocity and fearlessness seldom seen in these parts. Yard work, postponed, I will have to find something else to pass the time in the oppressive heat. So, with a nod toward avoiding work on a lazy afternoon won’t you join me as we stand and make, something cool and refreshing the Summer Negroni.
I’m on record as not being a huge fan of the classic Negroni. I want to like it, I really do, but that Campari just hangs around too long wiping it’s bitter boots all over my palate well after the pleasure of that initial sip has passed. However, I have high hopes for this lighter riff on the classic recipe. This one comes to us from Cole Porter of Nashville’s Corsair Distillery. He’s usually behind the bar at the Marathon Motor Works location, so I don’t get to see him all that often, but it is always a pleasure. In addition to making wonderful drinks, he has great taste in movies and classic motorcars. Well, I say great taste, perhaps I should say we have similar tastes, that’s the same thing, right? Either way, he makes a fine drink with a side of conversation.
This is one of those fun equal parts drinks, so grab your mixing pitcher and pop in 1 ounce each of barrel aged gin, I opted for Corsair Barrel Aged Gin, naturally; 1 ounce of Lillet Blanc aromatic wine and 1 ounce of Aperol aperitif. Toss in a dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters and some artisanal ice cubes before giving it a good stir to the beat of “Well, Did You Evah?“. I’m tempted to go with the amazingly counter Iggy Pop & Debbie Harry version, but sometimes you have to stick with the classic, so crank up Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby for some swellegant singing while you stir. When the drink is well chilled and a bit diluted strain into a rocks glass over one of those big sexy ice spheres and garnish with an expressed lemon twist.
I think this is the Negroni riff I have been looking for. It hits all those classic notes, but in a softer, more elegant way. It is more than the Campari to Aperol swap, that Lillet Blanc also hits a different note, that really brings this one together. I look forward to playing with some different gin options in this one. I love it as it is , but I can’t help thinking that an Old Tom gin might be interesting here and life is all about experimentation. This is a nearly perfect summer sipper for me. Light, refreshing, easy to build and easy on the palate. I like it.
Well, won’t you look at that? While I was making this cocktail one of those afternoon summer storms popped up, dropping the temperature and making it too wet to mow anyway. I was worried that I was going to need to swap to a Montenegroni instead, but, as it turns out, this Summer Negroni makes a fine sipper even when the temps drop from the high 90’s to the low 70’s in a matter of minutes and the rain continues to fall. I’m not surprised, not at all. That’s life for you, always changing. If you don’t believe me, hang around a little while, preferably with a drink in hand. Well, did you ever? What a swell cocktail this is. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.