A Negroni is one of those cocktails that I've heard of but never actually knew what was in them. I didn't really ever give the subject much thought until I read about Orangette drinking them with her mother and it sort of stuck in my brain. (If you click on the Orangette link, make sure you click in turn on her link, I really like the accompanying article that discusses Negroni variations). Like so many things, it did indeed get stuck in my brain but under a pile of exceedingly heavy other tidbits. I'm starting to suspect that I have had more than a few mini-strokes with all the things that fly out of my head, never to return. Anyway, I remembered the Negroni when I read this article in the New York Times about the Negroni Sbagliato. I actually love saying this but it's a bit much and would probably earn me cold reception from the bartender if I blithely ordered one of these.
So, picture this this. A steamy May evening in the port city of New Orleans. I enter May Baily's, a perfect reproduction of what I imagine the elegant parlors of Storyville's sporting houses to look like; Victorian wallpaper, sumptuous carpets and cut glass light fixtures. I want something to match the decor, refined and classic. The bartender had no idea what it was but she had no problem whipping one up based on my vague instruction. If you don't like Campari (bitter) you won't like this but I really enjoy that flavor, especially as an antidote to the heat. And then, about halfway through the drink, when the ice got all melty, something happened to the alchemy of the cocktail and it turned into something altogether different and even more delightful. If you don't like gin (and I don't really either but somehow it works for me here), make it with sparkling wine. I bet the effervescence really enhances the drink.