Friday, April 29, 2011

Bittersweet Negroni



Some days, you just need a good stiff drink.  All the better if that day is Friday.

This past week has just been completely crazy - work has gone into overdrive and my mind has been swirling as I have been trying to make big life decisions at the same time.  I won't complicate matters even further by delving into all the details, but I will say this - Hallelujah for Friday.  Lord knows I desperately need a moment for my brain to take a rest and my body to relax so that I can get some clarity and focus on what is really important to me.   


As I have explained before, at my core I am not really a big drinker, but I do like a good cocktail now and then - especially when I want to kick back, put my feet up and relax or enjoy a really fun night with friends.  In this case, when I saw this Bittersweet Negroni in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, I knew it would be the perfect medicine for my aching, overworked brain.  I had actually never heard of a Negroni before, but I was intrigued by the short description:

'My first cocktail crush was the Negroni. It was the "adult" taste (slightly bitter, slightly sweet) but also its easy-to-memorize recipe that hooked me. Even today, no matter what bar I find myself in, I know I can get a consistently well-made one. It's all about the golden ingredients ratio: 1-1-1.' 
–Andrew Knowlton

The 'golden ingredients ratio' Andrew is referring to is a mixture of 1 part Gin, 1 part Sweet Vermouth, and 1 part Campari.  I love gin - a simple gin and tonic with extra lime is my boring, but favorite cocktail - and the yin and yang of sweet vermouth with bitter campari was strangely reminiscent of another treat I have been enjoying recently... Kumquats.  



Kumquats are one of the smallest types of citrus, and their oval shape and size is more similar to a large olive than a typical round orange.  But the real distinguishing characteristic of the kumquat is its taste - this fruit can be eaten whole, and the rind actually has a sweet flavor, while the flesh is more bitter.  When you bite into a kumquat you initially taste the sweet, and then the flesh releases a torrent of sour in a burst of juice.  I have just been popping kumquats like candy, and I love the way my mouth puckers around the sweet-sour little jewel.


It was this complementary yin and yang of flavors that made me realize garnishing a Negroni with some simple sliced kumquats would be so much more appropriate (and beautiful) than a simple orange twist or slice.  Don't you agree?

The bright orange kumquats make a lovely contrast to the crimson Negroni.

I skewered the kumquats onto an appetizer fork, but you could also use a toothpick.


If you are not a fan of cloying cocktails or run-of-the-mill bar drinks, the Negroni just might be the drink for you.  It is sophisticated and pleasant to sip - not the kind of drink you want to gulp down, but the kind you can savor and appreciate while winding down after work or on a warm weekend afternoon.  You can let your mind wander...  Because after a long week, isn't that what we all want to do?   Just relax, take it slow, and savor life.  



You might also like: Spicy Ginger Citrus Cocktail
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Bittersweet Negroni

2 tbsp gin
2 tbsp sweet vermouth
2 tbsp Campari
A splash of prosecco (optional)
Sliced Kumquats for garnish (optional) 
Ice cubes

Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice, then top with gin, vermouth, and campari.  Stir to mix, and if you like, top off with a splash of prosecco and garnish with sliced kumquats skewered on an appetizer fork or toothpick.  Serve immediately.  Makes 1 drink.

41 comments:

  1. Looks like an amazing drink! Bookmarked!

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  2. I would love to join you for drinks! I am in San Diego and doing the bake sale. Seriously this drink looks so good and the weather here had been calling for drinks on the patio this week :)

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  3. First of all, I love those glasses. So classic... just stunning. And second, next time we get together, we're getting negronis... They're one of my favorite cocktails.

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  4. This looks fantastic. I had my first Negroni just a few weeks ago. It's a great drink for sipping on for sure. Your photos are lovely!
    (And what's funny is that I posted a cocktail today, too. Must be something about this week. Cheers!)

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  5. have a nice weekend, I would love one of these myself.

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  6. That sounds like a lovely twist on a classic. I love a good negroni! I see one in my future!

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  7. My goodness, Amanda, your images are just stunning! I love kumquats and how you worked that into the Negroni. Cheers and hope you get some rest this weekend :)

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  8. I find the older I get, the less I like fruity martinis and sugar cocktails... and I'm totally developing a taste for good, stiff, grownup sorts of drinks like Negronis and Manhattans.
    I've never tried one with a kumquat garnish, but it does sound like a perfect match. Will have to remember to pick up some kumquats and Campari so I can give these a try. TGIF!

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  9. I love this twist on a classic. I'd never had a negroni until 12 months ago when the mixologist at our local restaurant made me his version and I loved it. I've never had one as good since, but this looks delicious. I'm bookmarking this to try.

    Gorgeous photos too!

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  10. Heavenly! Kumquats taste swesomely good and that drink must be really enjoyable.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  11. Let me tell you I could have totally used a "stiff drink" such as this one yesterday but, it's never too late right? Gorgeous photos as always!

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  12. Great little fork-skewers! Hadn't heard of a Negroni (not a big drinker either) but I've got the gin/tonic picked as my standby fave as well, so I'll give this one a go! Lovely pics as well!

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  13. I love those glasses. I've heard of Negroni, but I don't think I've ever tried it before, it sounds great.

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  14. Okay, I'm convinced . . . gimme one. (But can I sub vodka for gin?)

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  15. Nice sounding drink. And we love kumquats, but find them hard to find. Look forward to trying your concoction thanks for sharing.

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  16. Incredible drink! I've been eyeballing it at all the food porn sites all day and I just had to swing by and say how gorgeous it looks. Never had a Negroni before but I'll def be ordering it soon :) Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Lizzie in Los AngelesApril 30, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Campari is at the top of my shoplist. Always have gin and sweet vermouth on hand, so Negronis it is for us tonight before a Greek-inspired dinner. Thanks for the drop-dead gorgeous pix too.

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  18. Those colours are amazing. I don't like campari, but I'd almost consider making this drink because of how pretty it looks :)

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  19. I love a good negroni. Your pictures are stunning! COngrats on Top 9!

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  20. Yum... this sounds like a fantastic cocktail! And will definitely keep it in mind the next time I have one of those hellish work weeks! =)

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  21. Those pics are gorgeous, and I love the idea of putting cocktail garnished on appetizer forks almost as much as I love Negronis themselves. But not quite. I've never added prosecco - bet it makes them really nice and summery; I'll have to try it out!

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  22. We should enjoy one of those together. for reals.

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  23. Such an explosion of colour. Love the photographs..

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  24. Hi There, This is looking absolutely delightful. Loved the new combo of ingredients and the recipe is so nicely made and presented. Gorgeous pictures, especially of the glasses upside down. Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day….Sonia !!!

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  25. Rosemary: I can't say from experience whether you can sub vodka for gin (I didn't try it personally), but here is what the internet tells us:

    "The standard recipe is very well balanced; however there are some variants. The Negroni sbagliato ("wrong"in Italian) uses sparkling wine (e.g., prosecco) instead of gin. Negroski is a recipe with vodka again as substitute for gin. Punt e Mes Negroni instead replaces standard red vermouth with a specific, distinctively more bitter-tasted brand called Punt e Mes."

    Give it a try!

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  26. I'm usually a vodka soda girl, but lately I've been really into specialty cocktails. I had one last weekend with cilantro, it was A-mazing! This concoction appears to be right up my alley! I hope it helped heal the brain hurt your week left behind :)

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  27. oh that looks refreshing!

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  28. I think we need a cocktail hour at Camp Blogaway next year! Beautiful photos...

    So wonderful meeting you :)

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  29. Amanda - these are *stunning*! They make me want a drink, and it's 10 pm on a Tuesday night and I'm in my pj's in bed. :)

    What are you doing for light these days? These seem brighter ... is it positioning /natural light or an external light source? I'm trying to work on my lighting ... which is why I ask. I want to brighten up a bit, but my house doesn't have a great aspect for that.

    Anyway, lovely post. :)

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  30. hmm, its nice but its a sbagliato if it contains prosecco :) Am i not right?

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  31. Anonymous: Yes you are correct! If it uses prosecco it is a Sbagliato, but since I listed it as optional in the recipe I thought I should call the basic recipe a Negroni.

    Amanda: Thanks for the compliments on my photos, I too have been trying to work on my lighting so it is great to see someone notices. *blushing* I currently don't use any external light sources, I only use natural light from a west/southwest facing window in my apartment. I get great late-afternoon light there but I think the positioning is key to make the photos look 'brighter.' I went to a workshop with Todd and Diane of WORC and they suggested photographing with the light source (window/sun/external source) at 12 o'clock to the food - which means coming from behind it. This gives a lovely light background for the food, but then you just need to make sure it is exposed correctly so the food doesn't appear too dark or cast shadows that are too intense. You can also try bouncing light back onto the front of the food with a homemade reflector (alum foil or white board). Does this make sense? If you want more clarification just email me! ;)

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  32. Clearly, I need to get out more. Your blog rocks! What an amazing photographer you are!! SO happy to have met you- hopefully we can spend more time together in San Diego. We should be at the beach today!

    I love the idea of using kumquats in a cocktail and they look even more darling as a garnish. The only thing I've ever done w/ them is make some Kumquat Marmalade.

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  33. Your photos are beautiful and those skewers are fabulous. I am going to be on the hunt for something like them now.

    I'm so happy to have stumbled upon your blog via RecipeGirl.

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  34. oooh yum! I had something very similar at alchemy this weekend!

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  35. Gosh, I love a good classic cocktail. I've never tried these, but they look amazing. The garnish with the kumquats is just spectacular!

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  36. This post makes me thing TGIF and it's Wednesday. I guess I should be saying, Hello Friday, I am waiting! What a beautiful cocktail. I didn't have my first kumquat until last year, but it was that perfect balance of bitter and sweet you're talking about. This is definitely up there on my, "I need to try," list.

    I hope your big life decisions get easier. Good luck. Deep breaths, chocolate, and a few of these always help too!

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  37. Sounds absolutely fabulous -- and yes, a pleasant departure from the cloyingly sweet drinks. Love the skewered kumquats. Gorgeous!

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  39. Muy muy apetitoso, me encanta!!
    http://rlaspalomas.blogspot.com

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  40. I love reading your blog and I have something for you on my blog!
    http://cookingitalianinthemidwest.blogspot.com/2011/05/roasted-tomato-pasta.html

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  41. Dear,
    cocktails are my greatest passion for years now, and I always try to get the appropriate glass for each drink, could you tell me which brand and model of glasses you use? And how about the appetizers fork? Many thanks

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