Ah, the Negroni cocktail – the drink that has been the surprise hit of the past decade and is now de rigueur on any cocktail list worth its salt. But did you know that the drink has a fascinating history behind it? Today, we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Pascal-Olivier de Negroni de Cardi, Comte de Negroni – the man (most likely) to have been behind this delicious cocktail. So grab yourself a Negroni, and let’s dive into the story!
Pascal-Olivier de Negroni was born on born April 4th 1829, in Corsica. He joined the French army at 18, and was decorated in 1870 with Officer of the Legion of Honor before retiring in 1891 after 44 years of service. Between 1855 and 1865 Pascal-Olivier de Negroni was posted as base commander to Saint Louis, Senegal. It was here that he was said to have created the Negroni, writing “Incidentally, did you know that the vermouth-based cocktail that I invented in Saint Louis is a great hit at the Lunéville officers club?” in a letter to his brother. While this quote in and of itself is by no means conclusive, other accounts from pharmacists and barmaids in Senegal mention a French Army captain who spread the gospel of the Negroni throughout Dhakar. Some accounts even suggest the cocktail was a labor of love between Pascal and his wife, to celebrate their marriage. 
…but wait! There’s more!
As is often the case with the history of our best loved cocktails, there are other stories around the birth of the Negroni, the most famous of which is that of Count Camillo Negroni (born in 1868). He was – until recently – often claimed to have ‘created’ the drink in 1919 when it was said he asked Fosco Scarselli (who was tending bar at Caffè Giacosa in Florence) to add a little kick to his Americano by topping it up with Gin (instead of soda water).
Whilst this is perhaps a simpler story, there doesn’t seem to be any actual evidence to support this claim beyond letters dated from 1920 where Count Camillo Negroni is advised to “not take more than 20 Negronis in one day!” – a sentiment that we’d unfortunately have to agree with!
Whichever way you like to tell it, the Negroni quickly caught on with drinkers across Europe. It is considered by many to be the perfect drink to start the evening with – bold, flavourful, and with just the right balance of sweetness, strength and bitterness. We’re partial to it here at 6 O’clock Gin, both because we love how it adds additional layers of complexity to our London Dry, and also because we’re rather keen on spot of pre-dinner drinking!
The 6 O’clock Gin Negroni(s)
One of the best things about this cocktail is its versatility. While the classic Negroni recipe calls for equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, there are countless variations of this drink. We’ve created a fruitier twist on the Negroni with our Damson Gin, which blends it with dry vermouth, Aperol and a dash of orange bitters (to bring back a touch more citrus bitterness). Other recipes can be made with our Romy’s Edition, as well as with our popular Export Strength Brunel.
And finally, how should you enjoy your Negroni? Well, it’s considered correct to serve a Negroni with an orange wedge (so that you can squeeze in the juice for addition sweetness). You simply need to stir down the ingredients with ice (to chill and dilute) in a mixing jug, the strain it into an ice-filled rocks glass.
Some people prefer to sip it slowly and savour the complex flavours, while others prefer to knock it back quickly as a pre-dinner aperitif. However you choose to enjoy your Negroni, just be sure to raise a glass to Pascal Olivier Count de Negroni on his birthday! Cheers!