Cocktail Hour: Cherry Spiced Negroni

Cocktail Hour: Cherry Spiced Negroni

Lately I’ve been getting into the holiday spirit and embracing recipes that bring warmth and comfort as the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter. This is my twist on a Negroni with a few tweaks that make it the perfect cocktail to start your evening during the holiday season. I don’t know about you, but I love a traditional Negroni. I tend to shy away from sweeter cocktails, and I like the bitter, sharp flavour of cocktails like this. It makes an excellent aperitif helping to work up your appetite, but it’s not for everyone. My version might be a good introduction to the Negroni for someone not as accustomed to bitter-tasting drinks, as the holiday spiced syrup adds an element of sweetness.

What you’ll need:

For one cocktail:

  • 1 ounce gin – I like to try and stay local with my spirits as much as possible, so I’ve used Dillon’s Unfiltered Gin 22
  • 1 ounce red vermouth – I’ve used Dillon’s vermouth
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • About 4 dashes of cherry bitters
  • 1 tablespoon of holiday spiced syrup – this might seem like a lot of syrup, but you need a significant amount to stand up to the powerful punch packed by the Campari and vermouth.

For the holiday spiced syrup:

I’ve written about it before, but it’s worth repeating that simple syrup is extremely easy to make. All you need to do is add flavours you like to equal parts water and sugar, bring it to a boil, simmer for five minutes or so, and then let stand until it cools, and strain the added ingredients from the syrup. Homemade simple syrup like this should last about a month in the refrigerator. 

In this case I’ve added the below ingredients to 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar:

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of orange zest – this substitutes the usual orange peel traditionally found in a Negroni.
  • A small handful of pink peppercorns – black peppercorns would work nicely here too, I just happened to have pink ones. Make sure you use whole peppercorns, not ground, as you’ll need to strain the added ingredients from the syrup.

You could really use any holiday spices you like!

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How to make it:

Combine the gin, Campari, vermouth and syrup in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice and stir to combine. Grab an old fashioned or rocks glass, and add a large ice cube or a handful of ice. Then, add the dashes of cherry bitters, and strain the Campari, vermouth, syrup mixture into the glass. You can also add these ingredients straight to your glass, forgoing the cocktail shaker altogether to save some dishes, but I find it a little easier to stir this way.

Ice or no ice?

A Negroni can be made both straight up or on the rocks. If you’re serving it on the rocks though, you need to mix the ingredients in the cocktail shaker with ice as well. You don’t want to pour room temperature booze over ice because that will result in a watery cocktail, which no one wants.

About the Negroni cocktail

Some sources say the Negroni was first mixed in Florence, Italy at the Hotel Baglioni in the early 1900’s as a stronger take on the traditional Americano, which consists of Campari, vermouth, club soda and an orange peel - the Negroni's more subdued cousin.

As I continue my mixology education, I’ve learned that starting with classic cocktail recipes as your base and then experimenting with different syrups and bitters can be a great way to learn what flavours go well together and what you like. Give it a try and let me know what you come up with!

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An Old Fashioned Friend

An Old Fashioned Friend

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