It’s that time of the year when lovers of the bitter Campari, gin, and vermouth mix get to celebrate with a tipple or two during Negroni Week. Do we need a week dedicated to a classic cocktail? When it’s also raising vital funds for charitable causes, then the answer is a big fat ‘yes’.
This year, Melbourne’s top bars will be sprucing up the classic cocktail with some interesting and innovative variations. Our friends over at 1806 have four different styles of Negronis as well as delicious matched cheese boards.
We particularly enjoyed the unusual Champagne Negroni with white Cinzano, champagne, house-made pear syrup, and the mysteriously-named ‘mystic caravan’ bitters. As the name suggests, this is a refreshing light Negroni instead of the usual dark red of Campari-based cocktails. Another highlight was the Coffee in my Rye (we love a good pun): Sweet vermouth, coconut wash Wild Turkey rye, Campari, PX Sherry and a hearty dash of Black Eagle Coffee. This dessert-style cocktail is something we can see ourselves coming back for again and again.
There are plenty of other interesting Negroni variations for fellow non-purists to sample during the week. Our top pics include the Elysian Whisky Bar’s ‘Ume-da Boulevardier’: Campari, Rye Whisky, Shiso Umeshu and orange bitters.
Australian themed bar Dingo’s will be making ‘Lionel’s Left Hand’, named after the left-handed punch of Australia’s first Indigenous boxing star and Australian of the Year, Lionel Rose. Expect the cocktail to give you a bit of a punch as well with plenty of dark rum, Campari and their house-spiced vermouth blend.
As mentioned before, Negroni week helps to raise funds for various charitable causes across the world, with last year raising $400,000 globally! Each bar will donate a percentage of their chosen Negroni’s price to various causes, with OzHarvest and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) being the principal charity partners. Melbourne in particular will be familiar with the great work OzHarvest does by rescuing unused food from restaurants, caterers and food outlets to provide meals for disadvantaged and vulnerable Australians.
Drinking with a social cause? That’s something we can get behind.
Tomas Zagoda is a filmmaker, writer, coffee addict and tall person who does not play basketball. You can follow him on your social media channel of choice @TomasZagoda.
Negroni Week runs from the 5-11 June. Check out the full lineup of events at www.negroniweek.com.