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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Campari Olé: another variation on a classic cocktail

Cocktail lovers are well aware of the resurgence of the Negroni and its many variations (like another of my favorites, the Boulevardier).  The classic Negroni (it even has a book dedicated to it) has only three ingredients: Campari, Gin, and sweet Vermouth, mixed at a 1:1:1 ratio, while the ratios in the Boulevardier may vary a bit depending on the type of Whiskey.  The two ingredients that all of these variations have in common are Campari Bitter Liqueur and sweet Vermouth.

Both of these venerable cocktails have been around awhile. The Negroni was named after Count Camillo Negroni of Firenze, who was in a rut, ordering the same cocktail (the ubiquitous Americano) every day.  Legend has it that one day in 1919, Negroni was looking for something a little stronger than his favorite aperitivo, and that bartender Fosco Scarselli at Caffè Casoni replaced the standard soda water in the Americano with Gin.  What a pleasanr surprise.  The Boulevardier’s origins may be shrouded in mystery, but it made its first appearance in print in 1927’s Barflies and Cocktails by Harry McElhone (of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris), less than a decade later.

Just like the Count, every so often, one gets in the mood for something different.  Due to a lack of bar discipline, a bottle of Campari and one of Tequila were side by side on the bar: interesting…  A little playtime at the bar produced evidence that the classic Negroni proportions of 1:1:1 produced a pretty nice cocktail.  The next step was a little web research.  It turns out that this was not a new idea, but the posts that turned up proved it was a good one.  The best recipe seems to be one credited to German cocktailian Bastian Heuser by the first author to record it in a cocktail book, Robert Hess, who did so in The Essential Bartender’s Guide.  Hess called it an Agavoni (yeah, I know, I decided to try Campari Olé).  A key added ingredient in this Negroni variation was the addition of Orange Bitters. So give the following recipe a try, and let us all know how you like it, or try your own recipe.

Campari Olé
  • 1 oz Familia Camarena Silver Tequila
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth (sweet)
  • 1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass half full of cracked ice.  Stir briskly until nice and cold.  Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with ice (or, if you’re feeling lazy, just build it in the glass).  Garnish with twist of orange peel (Hess calls for a grapefruit twist). 

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