“A riff that deserves to be a classic by itself."
HOW WE LIKE IT
- 1.5 oz. Liberator Gin
- 3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano
- 3/4 oz. Dolin Blanc
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir to chill. Strain into a chilled glass with a large cube, garnish with grapefruit peel. Sip and wonder 'if the snows will ever cease' (if not physically then spiritually.)
Snow on the ground, and a nip in the air, so a White Negroni seems to fit the mood. Instead of the bright color and fruit of Campari, we like to switch to light ingredients to match the white of winter. (Even if it’s still green where you are.) The fun part of disassembling a White Negroni is the variation in recipes. Most recipes only agree on gin. Everything after gin becomes personal preference and availability. Given the variations available, it’s easy to put a spin on it that suits your taste and liquor cabinet.
THE INGREDIENTS & TASTE
The sheer number of recipes highlight how broad the playing field is for making a White Negroni. I don’t want to say “the only thing it has to have is gin” because I’m sure someone has gin-free variation out there somewhere. Truth is there's no standard, so experiment and taste test away! (Note: The debate on what makes a White Negroni is a wonderful way to start a conversation with a bartender, learn something new, and taste a new drink at the same time.)
Cocchi brings the sweet notes Campari does to the original. It starts as a white wine, gets fortified, then bolstered with added flavors and bittering agents. The end result is something well suited to combine with a dry pour and stretch it into a balanced sip. When it comes to vermouth we’re a Dolin Blanc kind of house. Blanc's light, herbal tones and bitterness are a wonderful pairing for a dry gin. It also adds complexity on the end of the sip. By all means grab the vermouth you love, but the lighter the better if you want to keep it a ‘white’ drink.
A note about ratios: It's simple to vary up the ratios for a sweeter or drier drink. A straight 1/1/1 was a touch too sweet, but I can see how it might suit someone who likes gin as a supporting flavor. Also, at 1/1/1 the drink is a little heavy on the tongue. A 2/.5/.5 ratio gives you a gin-dominant sip for those who are more inclined to a martini.
To find the right gin we tasted drinks made with Anchor Junipero, Liberator, Death’s Door, and Beefeater. When compared with the other three, the Beefeater had less to offer and was too dry by far. It mellowed a bit but remained a boozy sip that didn't give us what we wanted. Where the Beefeater was flat, the Junipero was strong. As expected, there’s so much juniper berry it has a hard time play nicely with the Cocchi and vermouth. It’s a brilliant gin we love in other drinks, but this doesn’t play to Junipero’s strengths.
Going in we expected the Death’s Door’s juniper to be too dominant to make a balanced drink, but we were pleasantly surprised. Immediately after pouring, it had subtle spice notes and the citrus played well with the sweetness of the Cocchi. Oddly enough, Death’s Door muted the vermouth to the point of wondering if we’d poured it. (That’s not a bad thing, but worth noting so you don’t have a panic moment and double down on the vermouth like we almost did.)
Our overwhelming favorite was the Liberator. On first pour the coriander and spice notes are sharp on the nose and the finish of cinnamon and orange is amazing.
Truth be told we didn’t want to let the drink mellow for more than a few seconds as it was so delicious. Mellowed a few moments the drink retained all the power of the first sip, losing only a bit on the nose as the ice melted. The White Negroni with Liberator was complex, full of flavor, and had the warming sensation we hoped for.
Bitter: Yes, varies by the chosen ingredients
If it was a scene in a book it would be the moment the kids burst out of the wardrobe into Narnia - pristine, white, and a hint of menace in the air. (Maybe that’s just how I read the book.)
A standard build, add ice, stir, and strain. Like a standard Negroni, we like it with a large cube, but your mileage may vary.
We like it with a bit of peel to add some oil to the nose and mingle with the flavors. Preference in descending order is grapefruit, lemon, orange - but whatever’s handy will do.
A White Negroni is a lovely variation that encourages experimentation, variation, and enjoyment.