The Negroni: From Florence To The World

A popular aperitivo up and down the country, the Negroni has also made its mark around the world.

A glass of Negroni
Negroni garnished with an orange slice. Photo: Allan Francis on Unsplash.

As far as iconic Italian cocktails go, few others are better known than the Negroni. A popular aperitivo across the peninsula, the Negroni has also made its mark around the world. There is even a dedicated international Negroni Week (happening in 2023 from the 18th to the 24th of September), which started in 2013 as a small-scale celebration of the cocktail and over the years has become a world-wide event, where participating bars create classic Negronis and Negroni variations, and all proceeds go to charitable causes.

The vibrant ruby red drink celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019, and while its origin story remains highly disputed among industry historians, the generally accepted account is that a member of the Negroni family asked a bartender at Casoni Bar—then renamed Caffé Giacosa, located on Via Tournabuoni in Florence—to improve on the Americano by replacing soda water with gin. Swapping the original lemon garnish with an orange wedge to complete the new drink, the Negroni was born.

The cocktail is perfect in its simplicity: made with one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari; built over ice in a rocks glass, stirred, and garnished with a slice of orange (or an orange peel when outside of Italy). It’s unmistakably bitter, and is the unofficial aperitivo drink in Milan.

Over the last century, many variations spun off from the original recipe, appealing to different tastes and moods—one went surprisingly viral in late 2022 when House of the Dragon actor Emma D’Arcy was asked by co-star Olivia Cooke in an interview what their favorite drink is.

“Negroni. Sbagliato. With prosecco in it,” D’Arcy haltingly replied, letting each word sink in (a Sbagliato swaps gin for Spumante or Prosecco, resulting in a lighter, easier drink). Google searches for the cocktail increased by 501% the week following the viral TikTok moment, and bars across the US and UK noticed more and more orders for a cocktail that until then was almost ignored on their menus.

As the rest of the world catches up on the joys of the Negroni, Italians continue to light their aperitivo hour red. While the cocktail is easy to find in any bar across the country, we have a few sensational places to go for an unforgettable experience.

Giacosa 1815, Florence

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The original Caffé Giacosa was shut down in 2017 to the great dismay of many in Florence, but was recently revived by Valenza Group and reopened in July of 2023. The Negroni still features proudly in their menu, both in its original recipe and more creative renditions.

Address: Via della Spada, 15 R, 50123 Florence

Bar Basso, Milan

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The birthplace of the recently popularized Negroni Sbagliato, where it was accidentally invented in the late 80s. The bar is still running and is essentially an institution in the Milanese bar scene.

Address: Via Plinio, 39, 20133 Milan

Stravinskij Bar, Rome

Located within the Hotel de Russie, the Rome establishment’s bar menu features three variations of Negroni cocktails—Stravinskij Sbagliato, Negroni Bum Bum, and Negroni Afrodite—that any adventurous cocktail drinker should try.

Address: Via del Babuino, 9, 00187 Rome