Some cocktails are born from necessity, others from the love of the craft. The Negroni, however, seems to have been created from the desire to simply make a stronger drink to consume.
It was 1919 in Italy and one of the most popular cocktails was the Americano (comprised of Campari, vermouth, and soda). The Americano was light and refreshing; overall a great choice when dealing with the Italian summer heat. Count Camillo Negroni desired something more. After spending some time living in London, he became accustomed to the more potent nature of the spirits abroad.
Count Negroni brought back with him a taste for the London Dry Gin, which is extremely well-known in England. This led him to seek out his favorite bartender, Forsco Scarselli. He asked him to make an Americano, but requested he leave out the soda and replace it with gin. It was a hit! People from all around town started coming to see Forsco at the bar, asking him to make a “Negroni”. The rise in popularity of this cocktail was so intense that the Negroni Family opened a distillery in order to make a bottled version of this new spirituous beverage (the same year it was said to have been invented).
The Negroni of today is very much like the one from 1919, with only some light tinkering. The most successful variants of the cocktail seem to be ones that play off of, or intensify, the classic favors of spices, aromatics, and wonderful bitter orange with unique liquors and gins. The Blood Orange Gin, created by Gervasi Spirits, ties in the flavors of gin with the unique ingredient of blood oranges.
Gin begins with grain-based alcohol going through multiple distillations to reach a higher proof. Traditionally, juniper is the platform to which things such as clove, orris root, coriander, orange peel, cucumber, and ginger are blended to add complexity and balance. Spices are often thrown directly into the pot where they steep allowing the alcohol to extract flavor. The ingredients can also be added to a gin basket which allows the alcohol vapors to penetrate and bring out flavors of more delicate botanicals. Master distillers search for a blend of fruity, herbal, spice, bitter, floral notes all working together in a glass to bring new experiences to the palate.
According to Shae Pridemore, head distiller for Gervasi Spirits, “The motivation in developing Saints Desire Blood Orange Gin was to offer a distilled spirit with typical gin-like underpinnings but with a focus on the merits of blood orange rinds. We leveraged the structure of our Small Batch Gin but adjusted the formula with new ingredients to accentuate the aroma, character and appearance of the blood orange. The botanical preparations on gin production days are an aromatic paradise, heady and intense.”
The Still House at Gervasi Vineyard is a distillery (Gervasi Spirits) and cocktail lounge, creating Blood Orange Gin and Small Batch Gin, among other unique spirits including wine barrel-finished bourbon and rosé vodka. The flavor-infused spirits are carefully crafted to enjoy neat or as a signature ingredients in creative cocktails. The vibrant cocktail lounge offers tried-and-true classics of the prohibition era, all the way to cutting-edge flavor combinations and flair techniques of today’s mixologists.
When visiting The Still House, try Saints Desire Spritz, featuring Gervasi Spirits Blood Orange Gin, Aperol, fresh lemon juice, house made simple syrup, and soda water. The best way to experience the essence of these handcrafted spirits is with a tasting flight, featuring any three liquors to sample with the option of a salty snack to accompany. Cheers!