Four Pillars Gin Cocktails

The Negroni – a sophisticated and mysterious Italian liquid history

Conventional legend has it that the Negroni cocktail was invented at the Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy in 1919. The story goes that Count Camillo Negroni requested a stronger version of his favourite cocktail – the Americano – and the bartender, Forsco Scarselli, did just that by replacing the soda component with gin. The resulting cocktail, comprising equal parts gin, sweet red vermouth and Campari, and adorned with a little slice of orange peel, looks like a liquid, ruby red soft drink but patches such a deceptive aperitif punch! In fact, this pre-dinner delight really needs to be paired with a solid meal! 

Camillo Negroni was an interesting and controversial figure. By repute, as a young man, he travelled America working for a period as a cowboy and then a gambler in New York, after which he lived for some time in London. Reportedly he returned to Italy at the introduction of prohibition. The drink proved to be so popular that people began to order “one of Count Negroni’s cocktails” and it became known as the Negroni. And while the Negroni family was quick to take advantage of the drink’s early success, establishing a distillery in Treviso to manufacture a version of the drink sold as Antico Negroni, there is some contention within the many French and Italian branches of the Negroni family as to the Count’s credentials.

According to some research, it is certainly questionable that Camillo was a Count although his grandfather, Luigi, certainly was. Others claim that there is no record of a Count Camillo Negroni in the family history – which stretches back to the 11th century. To complicate matters further, descendants of French General Pascal Olivier de Negroni, Count de Negroni, say he was the Count Negroni who invented the drink in 1857 in Senegal.

According to Difford’s Guide for Discerning Drinkers the story is even more complicated. There appear to have been multiple gin and vermouth based cocktails, including some version of bitters, either Campari or similar, that are documented from the mid- to late- 19th century through to the middle of the 20th century, all seemingly based on variations of regional Italian aperitifs. 


Regardless, the Negroni has become something of a style statement in the cocktail-verse. It was James Bond’s favourite tipple when he didn’t feel like a dry martini and Orson Welles, when he first tried a Negroni in 1947 is reported to have said “The bitters are excellent for your liver. The gin is bad for you. They balance each other.”

It’s beautiful. It’s sophisticated. It packs a punch. And it has a fabulous and controversial history. And now you can enjoy it anytime, anywhere in the tradition of Antico Negroni, with Curatif.