With gin, you are able to create some of the greatest cocktails out there. One example of an extremely popular cocktail that requires you to add gin is a ‘Negroni’.
But what exactly is a Negroni and what are the best gins to use in a Negroni?
What Is A Negroni
Like many cocktails, it is hard to say exactly when and where it first originated and who invented it. One thing about the Negroni is for sure though. The Negroni cocktail was invented by someone from the Negroni family in either 1857, 1914, or 1919 in Italy.
A Negroni is an Italian cocktail, mainly served as an apéritif. The cocktail consists of one part gin, one part vermouth Rosso, and one part Campari, garnished with an orange peel or slice. It is served in an Old Fashioned Glass where it’s poured over ice followed by stirring, not shaking the mixture.
One of the most widely accepted stories about the origin of the Negroni is the one where Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender for a stronger version of his favorite cocktail, the Americano.
An Americano consists of Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda, garnished with a lemon slice.
The Americano is actually the descendant of another cocktail called Milano-Torino which only consists of Campari and vermouth. To be honest, you could go on like this for a while, so let’s just stick to the Negroni.
Count Camillo Negroni’s bartender added gin to the Americano instead of club soda and garnished it with an orange slice rather than a lemon slice to distinguish the Negroni from the Americano.
Due to the addition of the gin in this cocktail, it is stirred and not shaken. If you are curious as to why this is, we wrote a whole article about why you should stir gin cocktails instead of shaking them.
Since the creation of the Negroni, a ton of different variations to this cocktail have been made where either the gin or the vermouth has been substituted for something else. The Campari is the only part of this cocktail that pretty much always stays the same.
A popular variation to the Negroni is for instance the Dutch Negroni, where gin has been substituted for jenever (gin is actually the descendant of this drink so this cocktail makes a lot of sense).
Other great variations are the Boulevardier, where gin is substituted for whiskey, and the Fergroni, where Italian vermouth called Punte Mes is added instead of normal vermouth.
What Does A Negroni Taste Like
The great thing about a Negroni is that it’s quite easy to make. You can order a Negroni anywhere or make one yourself at home and you’re pretty much guaranteed to always receive an amazing drink.
First of all, you don’t need a ton of different or special ingredients. The recipe is fairly simple seen as it only consists of gin. vermouth and Campari. This mixture is then poured over ice and garnished with an orange peel or slice.
Second of all, seen as that there are already a ton of different variations to the Negroni, where gin or vermouth are substituted for something else, it’s hard to make a Negroni with ingredients that won’t taste good.
Just make sure to always add Campari as your bitter liqueur.
The fact that this cocktail is always a great option no matter where you are, is probably a big part of the reason why it’s so extremely popular. Aside from that, its taste is also amazing.
Due to the Campari added to the Negroni, the drink is first perceived as bitter but also fruity. The vermouth and orange add a nice sweetness to this cocktail to balance out the bitterness. The gin adds a bit more herbal, lemon, and coriander notes to the drink. Of course, the gin also gives this drink the classic piney taste from juniper berries.
All three of the drinks are of equal parts which makes them all really noticeable. This creates a cocktail that is bitter, sweet, dry, and refreshing all at once which can be consumed at any time throughout the year.
Most commonly, however, this cocktail is enjoyed during the summer to freshen up a bit right before dinner.
What Gins Work Best In A Negroni
As we’ve said before, Campari should always be included when creating a Negroni. You can, however, experiment with different kinds of vermouth and gin to test how you like your Negroni the best.
The most important thing to consider while choosing a gin for your Negroni is its quality. You do not want to add a cheap gin with low production quality to your Negroni.
The types of ingredients in the gin or the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of the gin don’t really matter too much (this is more up to personal preference), but the spirit should be of great quality to make the perfect Negroni cocktail.
Most often, dry gins are used in Negroni cocktails. The dryness of the gin softens the sharp Campari a bit, making the drink comparatively easier to drink.
This means that a London dry gin of your favorite gin brand will probably work amazingly in a Negroni.
You could, however, also opt for a bit sweeter gin, if you’re not the greatest fan of dry, piney juniper notes, or you could go for a very herbal gin.
Let’s just say that there are a ton of different options and they all depend mostly on personal preference. In this article, we list our top picks of the best gins in no particular order to use in a Negroni.
Gordon’s London Dry Gin
We start this list off with a gin that is not too special or extraordinary but is still a fantastic option in a Negroni. Part of the reason that this gin is a good option is that Gordon’s is inexpensive while the quality is still great.
Gordon’s gin is a popular gin brand that has been around for about 250 years already. With their vast experience, they are bound to create a great, high-quality gin.
Gordon’s gin is known for its very juniper-forward gins, which has earned them recognition as the ‘ginniest’ of gins.
Gordon’s London dry gin is a very straightforward gin, without a lot of complicated flavors. This is part of the reason why it’s on the cheaper side of the gins. This, however, doesn’t mean that the spirit tastes bad or boring. Not at all actually.
With Gordon’s gin mixed in a Negroni, you understand why the gin, vermouth, and Campari work great together. It’s not too complicated and therefore you can appreciate the mix of juniper berries and other botanicals with the vermouth and Campari.
Overall, Gordon’s is an amazing option if you’re on a budget or if you’re trying your first Negroni and want a simple but juniper-forward Negroni cocktail.
Hendrick’s Gin is also a pretty well-known gin. This gin comes with a bit more complicated flavors compared to Gordon’s gin and is therefore a great option if you’re looking to spice up a standard Negroni.
Hendrick’s gin is a fairly new gin brand since it only started in 1999. Their gin is known for its unique focus on cucumber. It’s probably at least somewhat due to Hendrick’s that a ton of people see a cucumber as a garnish when they think of a classic gin and tonic.
The juniper in this gin is still very much present, but besides the classic piney gin taste, there is also a good hint of cucumber and rose petals. Other tasting notes include coriander and citrus peel.
All in all this gin makes for a more sweet and floral variation on the Negroni. The floral addition this gin offers to a Negroni is mainly noticeable on the nose, but it also tastes a bit more like flowers.
Plymouth has been around since 1793 and has since then come out with a few iconic bottles of gin. Their classic Plymouth Gin recipe is already over 200 years old and will probably forever be a secret to the outside world.
Aside from their classic gin, they also make a Nave Strength gin which has an (ABV) of a whopping 57%, a Sloe Gin, a Gin Fruit Cup, and a Mr. King’s 1842 Recipe.
Plymouth’s gin has been a staple in the gin industry for quite some time now. The spirit is rich in flavors and really smooth.
Aside from the strong juniper taste, there are hints of sourness and spice, it’s a tiny bit sweet due to the orange peels and it contains background notes of citrus.
For an amazing Negroni you could opt for the classic gin from Plymouth, but if you’re looking for a strong drink that packs a punch, definitely try out their Navy Strength gin as well.
This gin is, for the most part, similar to their classic gin, but the high ABV will make for a strong variation to the standard Negroni.
Four Pillars Navy Strength
To stay on the topic of navy strength gins, we arrive at Four Pillars’ Navy Strength gin. Four Pillars has only been around since 2013, but they have made quite a name for themselves already.
In 2019, the Australian gin brand was named the world’s leading gin producer by the IWSC in London. Four Pillars mostly uses local botanicals from Australia to infuse in their gins, which makes them quite unique.
Their gins are distilled using whole and freshly cut oranges and this makes them stand out. This creates a more citrus-forward gin which has hints of sweetness from the oranges.
Four Pillars make a wide variety of different gins including Olive Leaf gin, Navy Strength gin, Sherry Barrel Aged, and even a Spiced Negroni Gin.
The latter of which is, as the name may suggest, a gin specifically made to make the perfect Negroni according to Four Pillars. It is a highly aromatic, rich, and spicy gin, with botanicals from Africa and Indonesia among other countries.
Aside from their Spiced Negroni gin, the Navy Strength is an amazing option for a Negroni as well. Like the Plymouth Navy Strength, this gin is also extremely strong with an even higher ABV of 58.8%.
Their Navy Strength is made for cocktails because drinking it neat would be too much for most people. Mixed, however, you notice some citrusy flavors and a hint of hot spice from the ginger. It’s also fresh but earthy and a bit sweet.
If you’re looking to try out this gin in your Negroni, make sure to follow the ratio of one to one to one, otherwise, you might not even remember drinking this cocktail.
Four Pillars Sherry Barrel Aged
We’ve already mentioned two great gin options for your Negroni from Four Pillars, but there is actually another one.
The Four Pillars Sherry Barrel Aged gin is a must-try for whisky lovers who want to try out a Negroni (or even a straight glass of gin).
Normally gin isn’t aged at all seen as aging gin does nothing to the taste of it (aside from maybe becoming a bit blander).
Four Pillars, however, wanted to step away from this prejudice and decided to try aging gins in different kinds of barrels. They’ve since then made a chardonnay barrel gin, a sherry barrel gin, and an Australian Christmas gin.
These barrel-aged gins have an added sweetness to them which makes them perfect for drinking neat or on the rocks.
They also work great in whisky-like cocktails and other classic cocktails like for instance a Negroni. It gives a nice whisky-like twist to the classic Negroni, which makes it fun to try out if you’re already into whisky or if you just want a different kind of Negroni.
Contrary to most of the other gins on this list, it’s not recommended to use this gin in a gin and tonic.
Sipsmith London Dry
Sipsmith’s London Dry brings us back to a more classic gin compared to the high ABV gins and aged gin we described before. However, it is most definitely not a boring gin at all.
The founders of Sipsmith got the idea to start a distillery in 2007 but weren’t able to start distilling in their 300 liters still. This was due to a law that required a distillery to have a still of at least 1800 liters to obtain a license for distilling.
They decided to start a petition and in 2008 the law was changed so gin could once again be crafted in small characterful batches.
Their London dry gin is floral and a bit zesty on the nose. It’s also got some fresh citrus notes to it. The taste pallet is somewhat sweet from the lemon and oranges with a strong spicy juniper finish.
This gin works great in a classic Negroni, but Sipsmith also recommends a twist on the Negroni, called the Roséate Negroni.
For this, you’ll need Cocchi Americano Rosa, some Angostura Orange bitters, dry rosé prosecco, an orange twist, and raspberries.
Beefeater London Dry Gin
Beefeater London Dry gin is another more traditional gin used in Negroni. Beefeater is a trendy gin brand and it’s used in a wide variety of different gin cocktails due to its simple but great taste and affordability.
Beefeater’s distillation of gin started back in 1863 and it’s been doing great ever since. Due to its simple but distinct flavors, their London dry gin is perfect for mixing in cocktails.
In the meantime, they’ve started distilling different flavored gins like blood orange gin and pink strawberry gin which are also of great quality and are becoming more and more popular.
Beefeater’s London dry gin consists of a mixture of nine botanicals including Seville orange peel and lemon peel. This makes for an amazing dry juniper-forward gin without too many complicated flavors. It’s a must-have for any gin fanatic.
It’s great in a classic Negroni, but Beefeater recommends trying their own pomegranate twist on a Negroni.
The recipe for this pomegranate Negroni cocktail is quite similar to a normal Negroni but you’ll need to add a bit of pomegranate juice and two dashes of orange bitters.
Roku is quite a unique gin compared to some of the others seen as it’s the only gin on this list that originates from Japan.
Roku translates to the number six in Japanese and they choose this name because of the fact that there are, among others, six very special Japanese botanicals used in this gin.
The base botanicals used in this gin are no surprise, juniper berries, coriander, cinnamon, angelica, lemon peel, and others.
The six Japanese botanicals used are Sakura flower and Sakura leaf which represent the spring, Sencha tea and Gyokuro tea which represent the summer, Sansho pepper which represents autumn, and Yuzu peel which stands for winter.
Because these different botanicals all represent a specific season, you get a gin that is perfect for any time of the year.
Mixed in a Negroni, you’ll get a drink that doesn’t stray too far from a traditional Negroni, but gives a nice twist to the standard cocktail.
The juniper berries and other botanicals are of great quality and give the drink that classic Negroni flavor pallet, while the exotic Japanese botanicals bring out the essence of a Negroni cocktail.
Aviation is an American gin brand co-owned by famous actor Ryan Reynolds. Love or hate the guy, but Aviation gin is definitely one of the best and most popular American gin on the market right now.
The difference between a London dry gin and an American gin is that American gins don’t rely as heavily on the main juniper notes as the London dry gins do.
For newcomers to gin, this could therefore be a great option to start with, seen as some people don’t necessarily enjoy strong piney juniper notes when they’re not used to it.
Aviation was named after the cocktail the Aviation but also works fantastic in a Negroni. The focus will be a little less on strong juniper notes and a bit more on floral notes.
Aviation recommends two twists on a traditional Negroni with their gin. The first one is called a Negroni upgrade where you don’t keep the same one to one to one ratio anymore.
Instead, it’s now two parts gin, one part bitter Aperitivo liqueur, and one part sweet vermouth garnished with an orange twist.
The other cocktail, called a white Negroni, keeps the traditional ratio but uses blanc vermouth and gentian liqueur garnished with a rosemary sprig.
Brooklyn Gin is, as the name may suggest, another American gin.
This means that just like the Aviation, this gin is a little less juniper-forward and is therefore probably better suited for people new to the gin scene. It is, however, also a favorite among many gin experts!
The many-award-winning gin is made by hand in relatively small batches of 300 bottles per batch to ensure the best taste with every sip you take.
They distill their gin in New York (not in Brooklyn strangely enough) with locally purchased botanicals and 100% American corn from small farms.
After distillation, they bottle the spirit in beautiful, heavy bottles that would look great in any bar or gin collection.
The gin itself is incredibly smooth with strong citrus notes in the taste pallet.
There are hints of anis and oriental spices as well. The smoothness makes this gin great if paired with vermouth. This means that cocktails like a Martini and Negroni will be amazing.
Just like the Aviation gin, it’s fantastic to change the Negroni recipe up a little by using two parts gin, one part Campari, and one part vermouth. But you could, of course, keep the traditional recipe like it is and it will be great as well.
Principe De Los Apostoles Mate Gin
Principe de Los Apostoles originates from a bar called Floreria Atlantico in Buenos Aires. The idea was to distill a gin that could represent South America. It would mainly have to mix well with more tropical ingredients.
Tato Giovannoni, the creator of this gin, uses a few unusual botanicals in the distillation. The most outstanding botanicals are pink grapefruit, eucalyptus, and peppermint.
These botanicals make for a spirit that is extremely fresh and herbal. The pallet starts out with a hint of citrus and mild juniper notes, but quickly heavy eucalyptus and mint notes start to take over.
This gin is definitely quite unlike a typical London dry gin and could therefore be a nice variation to a classic Negroni if you’re looking for something different.
Make sure to stick to the recipe of a one to one to one ratio though, or the minty flavors will take over the whole drink.
Boodles British London Dry Gin
Even though Boodles calls itself a British gin, most of its botanicals come from all over the world. The recipe for their London dry gin dates back all the way from 1845.
The spirit starts as English wheat and later botanicals like sage, rosemary, and nutmeg are added to distillation.
The unique thing about their recipe is that they don’t use citrus in their distillation. All in all, this makes for a gin that is truly piney on the nose combined with scents of angelica.
The taste pallet is strongly juniper-forward, followed by lime and sweet spice.
Adding Boodles London dry gin to a Negroni is an excellent choice because of the strong juniper-forward flavors. That is of course how a Negroni was meant to be, strong juniper notes balance extremely well with the Campari and vermouth.
To add to that, this gin has an ABV of 45.2%, meaning that it is a bit stronger than the average gin, which is also great when it’s mixed. This way the drink won’t be dull and you’ll feel like you’re actually drinking a cocktail.
Tanqueray no. 10
Tanqueray is considered one of the best gin brands on the market right now. Especially bartenders agree that this gin is amazing to use in cocktails. Tanqueray is in the top 6 best-selling gin brands worldwide. And for good reason!
Tanqueray uses a simple but extremely well-balanced recipe. They distill their gin four times to get the best quality spirit and to erase all traces of the base neutral grain spirit.
Contrary to most gin brands, Tanqueray doesn’t macerate their botanicals before adding them to the distillation step.
While the Tanqueray London dry gin is considered to be one of the very best London dry gins to use in gin cocktails, we didn’t include it in this list.
The main reason for that is that there are already a few great London dry gins on there and Tanqueray also makes another gin which is an amazing twist to a traditional Negroni.
The Tanqueray no. 10 is the only gin to be inducted into the San Francisco Worlds Spirits Competition Hall of Fame. Where the London dry version is full of juniper notes, the no. 10 is far softer sweeter, and more floral.
Tanqueray no. 10 mixed in a Negroni results in a nice burst of citrus. It also brings out the floral undertones of Campari extremely well.
All in all, this gin makes an amazing variation to a classic Negroni and you should definitely try one if you haven’t already.
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
The Botanist is an Islay dry gin made up of 9 classic gin botanicals and 22 other botanicals.
All these botanicals are foraged by hand because they believe that it’s still in all of our DNA dating from the times when foraging was still a way of life.
Among those 22 additional botanicals are for instance heather flower, lemon balm, meadowsweet, red clover flower, water mint leaves, and downy birch. These combined 31 botanicals make for quite a complex dry gin.
On the nose, this gin is a bit floral with a distinct scent of juniper which is a bit surprising seen as there are so many other botanicals present in this gin. The taste is rich, a bit zesty with a hint of spice.
The 31 botanicals are excellently balanced so you still get that specific juniper taste but it’s supported by a ton of other different flavors.
It’s 46% ABV which means that it packs quite a punch on its own, but mixed in a cocktail this gin will be perfect.
The Botanist itself recommends a Bianco Negroni which consists of one part Botanist gin, one part Luxardo bitter Bianco, and one part Carpano Bianco garnished with an orange peel.
The best gins for a Negroni are those that are complex and fragrant, with a strong juniper character that cuts through the Campari and sweet vermouth.
London dry gins are the most common choice, but you can also experiment with flavored gins or even genever, the Dutch ancestor of gin.
If you are looking for the best gins to gift, we have a great article with some recommendations to help you decide.
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