Stir crazy: how did the Negroni get so popular?

Izzy Payne

Izzy Payne


Once a well-kept secret amongst elite cocktail consumers, the Negroni has recently become one of the most-consumed cocktails in the world. But how did it become so popular?

The Negroni is a classic cocktail with a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. Named after Count Camillo Negroni, who reportedly asked a bartender to strengthen his favourite cocktail by replacing the soda water with gin, this boozy delight has seen a huge resurgence in popularity over the past decade.

The Negroni, with its equal parts of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, offers a perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness. This compilation of intricate flavours from each classic component makes the Negroni a favourite among bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts alike.

And yet, until about five years ago, the only people who ordered a Negroni were those who would think of themselves as ‘in the know’. Its acquired taste and somewhat niche ingredients make this cocktail the black coffee of the cocktail world: most people don’t get why you’d voluntarily order it when something as delish as the pumpkin spiced latte exists.

So why did people claim to love it? I must admit, I never believed that people actually enjoyed Negroni’s. I thought it was a bit of a poser drink - ordered by pompous people and sipped on in pretentious bars. I drank black coffee and even enjoyed a Campari spritz, but I just didn’t get the Negroni. Then, thanks to the miracle of TikTok, I was introduced to the gateway Negroni - the Sbagliato.

Picture this: It’s September 2022. House of the Dragon, a new HBO spin-off of Game of Thrones, began its press campaign. In a ‘Getting to Know You’ promotional YouTube video for HBO Max, stars of the show Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy share their likes and dislikes. When asked for their favourite cocktail, Emma D’Arcy says with a velvety voice:

“Negroni Sbagliato…with Prosecco in it”.

And the world went mad for it. Myself included. It amassed 35 million views and became a moment of incredible virality.

The Sbagliato, the Negroni’s flirtatious cousin, is made by replacing the gin with Prosecco.  By replacing the gin with a sweet sparking wine, a bitter poser cocktail became an accessible, enjoyable, delectable treat served on ice. And once I’d indulged in the Sbagliato, I began to understand the original Negroni. And I even began to order it. And then before you knew it, I became a fan.

With viral sensations like the 'Sbagliato' soundbite, Stanley Tucci's unforgettable Instagram Negroni tutorial, and a legion of bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts crafting Negroni-centric content, it's no wonder the Negroni gained its headliner status. And, you know, it's pretty tasty.

But social media is not the only reason for the Negroni’s newfound popularity. We’re seeing a new trend pattern of recycling classic, vintage aesthetics and marketing them as new and cool. We’ve seen this happen with so many cocktails in recent years, like the humble Tom Collins, the tangy Paloma and the oh-so-refreshing Aperol Spritz, to name a few. And it doesn’t end with cocktails.

The modern consumer is always hungry for a twist on a classic or a good come-back story. We’ve seen this repetitive trend of recycling with fashion as well: low-rise jeans, cargo trousers, and Ugg boots worn with legwarmers. I even saw someone online saying Capri trousers are back in, which will make any woman born before 1998 shudder in fear.

Anyway, back to the Negroni. Not only is this cocktail accessible because of its short ingredient list and simple method, but it’s also become a staple of the ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail world. This is super convenient because let’s face it, not all of us have a high-quality sweet Vermouth on hand. You can now enjoy the Negroni’s complex flavours at the pull of a tab or a twist of a lid, and indulge in a classic anywhere you fancy.

And yet, despite its recent surge in popularity, the Negroni is far from a passing trend (much like I pray Capri’s are). This drink was enjoyed by many before its virality, and it will be enjoyed by many after the trend cycle is done with it. The Negroni has a timeless appeal and balanced flavours make it a staple in the cocktail world. Whether enjoyed in a bustling cocktail bar or mixed at home, the Negroni is here to stay.

credits: Bone Idyll

Here’s how we’re making our Neverbland Negronis:

We’re using the classic Campari here. No frills. Nothing fancy. Just classic.

We’d also keep it simple with your choice of sweet vermouth. Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino is loved by bartenders and enjoyers alike. It's a classic for a reason.

And for gin, we’re using our London-born fave from Bone Idyll to give this Italian classic a Neverbland twist.

Pour 25ml of each of these delectable spirits into a mixing glass or jug filled to the brim with ice. Stir until the outside of the glass feels icy cold to the touch. Strain your cocktail over fresh ice and garnish with fresh orange peel. Sip and delight in the classic concoction.

Or if we're feeling lazy…our friends at MOTH make a sensational ready-to-drink negroni that is almost as perfect as the traditional.

What classic cocktail would you like to see make a comeback?

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