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side view of negroni on a wooden table on a porch with greenery in background and sunset

How To Make A Campari Negroni – Recipe + How To Serve It

Last updated on September 20th, 2023

Are you ready to finally try making your own Campari Negroni at home?

Maybe you’re looking for a go-to cocktail recipe for summer BBQs and dinners?

The famous Italian Campari Negroni is a perfect recipe to add to your cocktail repertoire because it only takes three ingredients, can be made for a crowd and needs not be served in any special glass.

The Negroni is perfect for entertaining because it can be mixed beforehand and simply poured over ice in batches as you need them. 

So learn how to whip up a large pitcher of Campari Negroni and let this be your new favorite entertaining cocktail for the summer!

What Is A Campari Negroni?

close up of tumbler glass with red rim on a stone table filled with ice and a bright red negroni

A Campari Negroni is an aperitif or cocktail originating in Italy in the 1920’s made from Campari bitters, gin and sweet red vermouth in equal parts. It’s most commonly served in a small tumbler glass (sometimes called old-fashioned glass) on the rocks.

In Italian, it’s actually not called a Campari Negroni but just referred to as a Negroni. When you ask for a Negroni in Italy, it’s assumed it will be made with Campari and thus, there is no need to call it a Campari Negroni. 

How to Pronounce Negroni

Negroni in Italian is pronounced neh-groh-nee.

Listen to the pronunciation of Negroni:

What Does A Negroni Taste Like?

A Negroni is a medium-strength bitter cocktail with a very herbaceous flavor profile with hints of citrus, cloves, cinnamon and cherry. It’s bitter enough to keep you from downing it in three sips but cut just enough with the addition of the sweet red vermouth.

The original recipe for Campari is a trade secret, unknown to anyone except Gruppo Campari themselves so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is used to give the Campari Negroni its herbal, citrusy flavor. 

Read More: Want to know more about Italian cocktails? Read our comprehensive guide to Best Italian Cocktails – 15 Popular Aperitifs We Actually Drink In Italy.

What Is Campari?

Close up of bottle of Campari on a marble surface.

Campari is the name of a trademarked alcoholic bitter with an ABV of 25%, which is made by infusing alcohol and water with various herbs and fruit. It’s characterized by its bright red color and herbaceous flavor.

Campari is part of the Italian category of alcohol known as amaro/amari or “bitters”, enjoyed as an aperitif. It was first invented in 1960 by Gaspare Campari in Novare, Italy and is today owned by Gruppo Campari. 

Campari is best described as having citrus undertones of orange, clove and cinnamon with a hint of cherry. 

Fact: The original bright red color of Campari originally came from crushing small insects that were used in the original recipe. Today, artificial coloring is added and bugs are no longer part of the recipe. 

Negroni Ingredients

negroni ingredients with gin on left, hand holding campari in middle and vermouth on right on a marble board
  • 1 part (1 oz or 3 cl) Campari
  • 1 part (1 oz or 3 cl) gin
  • 1 part (1 oz or 3 cl)  sweet red vermouth 

What Kind Of Gin To Use In A Negroni

Bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin laying on a marble surface.

Because the Campari Negroni is made with only three ingredients, I think it’s important to use the best quality. 

Gins can vary greatly in flavor so pick your favorite but I like Bombay Sapphire or Cittadelle Gin. Hendrick’s is another good choice.

Best Campari For Negroni

top view of campari bottle on a marble board from top view

The original recipe for the Campari Negroni calls for Campari bitters, which is also my personal preference. I live in Italy so it would be sacrilegious to use anything but original Campari!

There are many artisan bitters that are comparable to Campari on the market these days which are worth trying if you like buying USA-made products (see Campari Substitutions)

Best Vermouth For Negroni

close up of bottle of Martini sweet red vermouth on a marble surface

The most accessible, affordable and ROI (return on investment) red vermouth out there is Martini. Carpano Antica is another good choice. I usually use these two but from time to time I will also choose artisan-made varieties that I find here in Italy. 

close up of a bottle of artisan made vermouth held by a hand over a marble countertop from top view
Senera is our favorite artisan vermouth made right here in Tuscany

Good To Know: Vermouth only lasts about three months after it’s opened so be sure you are using one that hasn’t been in your cabinet for years!

How To Make A Negroni

  1. Pour the Campari, gin and sweet red vermouth into a small tumbler glass or old-fashioned glass filled with ice. 
  2. Stir well and garnish with a slice of fresh orange or a twist of orange peel directly into the glass.

How To Serve a Negroni

side view of negroni on a wooden table on a porch with greenery in background and shadow of glass coming towards front

A Campari Negroni should be served in a small tumbler glass (old-fashioned glass) on the rocks. The ice should not be crushed nor should the pieces be small. They should be standard ice cubes (made by a machine) or larger. 

Negronis are most commonly garnished with a slice of orange (a thin slice cut in half to look like a half moon) or a twist of orange (a piece of just orange peel) directly in the glass – not on the lip of the glass. My preference is with a twist of orange. 

How to Make A Negroni For A Crowd

This is such an easy cocktail to make in large quantities because the liquors hold up to being pre-mixed.

  1. Multiply each alcohol by the number of cocktails you wish to make or number of people you are serving. For example, 4 people means you need 4 oz Campari, 4 oz gin and 4 oz of sweet red vermouth. Easy, right?
  2. Mix the three spirits in a large pitcher and chill.
  3. To mix individual drinks, pour 3 ounces of the chilled Negroni mix into a small old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir well, garnish with either an orange slice or a twist of orange peel and serve. 

When Do Italians Drink Negronis

Italians drink Negronis as a pre-dinner cocktail and sometimes, as an after-dinner drink. Most commonly, however, it’s enjoyed before dinner with little bites such as peanuts, chips and olives because it’s made with Campari, which is a bitter, originally created to be enjoyed as an aperitivo or aperitif.

Good To Know: The legal drinking age in Italy is 18.

Campari Substitutions

a bottle of brutto american on the far right next to a bottle of citadelle gin in a blue glass bottle and a small green bottle on the left hand side all lined up from side view

You can absolutely make Negroni with other bitters that are similar to Campari (meaning they are very bitter, herbal with a touch of citrus). 

Many artisan varieties have made their way onto the market these days which are worth hunting down if you are an amaro-lover. They won’t be called Campari but if you are interested in playing around, you will find there are many similar brands on the market.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Bruto Bitters (California based)
  • Contratto Bitters (Italy based)
  • Luna Aperitivo (Washington D.C. based)
  • Lockhouse Distillery Ibisco Bitter Liqueur (New York based)

I would avoid making a Negroni with Aperol as the flavor profile is completely different. Aperol is also very sweet and with the sweet red vermouth, it’s too much. Stick to bitters that are more similar in flavor to Campari. 

Variations – Negroni Sbagliato

negroni sbagliato ingredients with martini on left, hand holding prosecco in middle and campari on right on a marble board

The most famous variation of the Negroni is the Negroni Sbagliato (pronounced neh-groh-nee sbahl-yah-toh in Italian).

Listen to the pronunciation of Negroni Sbagliato

Sbagliato means “mistake” in Italian and that is exactly how this variation of a Negroni was created. 

Mirko Stocchetti, owner of Bar Basso in Milan was making a Negroni but by mistake, added sparkling white wine instead of gin. From that day on, the Negroni Sbagliato became part of the everyday cocktail menu. Today, it’s made with equal parts Campari, Prosecco and sweet red vermouth.  

Make It: Learn How to Make a Negroni with Prosecco (Negroni Sbaliato).

side view of negroni on a wooden table on a porch with greenery in background and sunset

Campari Negroni

Authentic recipe for a Campari Negroni, straight from Italy.
No ratings yet
Course Drinks
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 person

Ingredients
  

  • 1 part Campari 1 oz or 3 cl
  • 1 part gin 1 oz or 3 cl
  • 1 part sweet red vermouth 1 oz or 3 cl

Instructions
 

  • Pour the Campari, gin and sweet vermouth into a small fold-fashioned glass filled with ice (the bigger the pieces of ice, the better).
  • Stir well and garnish with a slice of fresh orange or a twist of orange peel.

Notes

A negroni should be served in a small tumbler glass or old-fashioned glass over large chunks of ice, also known as “on the rocks”. 
Negronis are most commonly garnished with a slice of orange (either a thin whole round slice or a thin slice cut in half to look like a half moon) or a twist of orange (a piece of just orange peel) directly in the glass and not on the lip of the glass.
Keyword easy, entertaining, good for groups
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How To Make A Campari Negroni FAQ

Where was the Negroni invented?

The Negroni was invented in Italy by Fosco Scarselli in his bar, Café Casoni in Florence

What is a Negroni made of?

A Negroni is made from Campari, sweet vermouth and gin in equal parts

What does a Negroni taste like?

A Negroni is a strong, bitter cocktail with notes of citrus and very herbaceous. 

Is a Negroni shaken or stirred?

A Negroni is stirred rather than shaken.

How is a Negroni served?

A Negroni is served in a small tumbler glass or old-fashioned glass over ice or on the rocks with a twist of orange.

What is a Negroni Sbagliato?

A Negroni Sbagliato is made with equal parts Campari, Prosecco and sweet red vermouth.  

Can I substitute Aperol for Campari in a Negroni?

It’s better not to substitute Aperol for Campari in a Negroni because Aperol is much sweeter than Campari. Combined with the sweet red vermouth, the cocktail is not well balanced. 

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