- I made Negroni cocktails using recipes from famous chefs Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray, Marcus Samuelsson, and Valerie Bertinelli.
- Fieri’s and Bertinelli’s recipes were too bitter for my liking, but they’re sure to be hits for those who like their drinks not-so-sweet.
- Samuelsson’s Negroni was the most time-consuming to make, but the bourbon element of it was pretty tasty.
- Ray’s Negroni was my favourite because it felt unique and refreshing with its sweet, citrus-forward flavours.
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Nothing elevates dinner like a classic Negroni.
Dating back to 1919, this cocktail features a bold, complex flavour that is best reserved for sophisticated taste palettes.
Although the blend of sweet and bitter isn’t for everyone, many of us jumped on the Negroni bandwagon when actor Stanley Tucci mixed one up in his own kitchen and shared it with the world.
But Tucci isn’t the only high-profile person with a famous Negroni recipe.
In fact, many celebrity chefs, including Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray, Marcus Samuelsson, and Valerie Bertinelli, have put their own twists on this classic drink.
I decided to give them all a whirl to find which Negroni recipe you should serve at your next dinner party. (Or, honestly, which Negroni you’ll want to sip while you lounge on the couch and watch “The Devil Wears Prada”).
Fieri’s recipe kicked things off with a heaping helping of ginger.
As far as ingredients go, Fieri’s ginger Negroni recipe seemed pretty simple – until I noticed the amount of ginger per cocktail.
I don’t mind a touch of ginger, but an entire half-inch piece in one cocktail meant this drink was probably going to have some spiciness to it.
Muddle, shake, and pour — this drink took just minutes to make.
The ginger Negroni was quick and easy to make. I minced the ginger, muddled it in a shaker with sweet vermouth, then added the rest of the alcohol (gin and Campari).
From there, I strained the drink while pouring it over a glass full of ice.
By shaking the drink with ice and pouring it over ice, I was prepared for this to be nice and cold.
A simple garnish of orange slice gave this cocktail a sleek, minimalist look.
I could only take a few sips of this Negroni because it was so bitter.
I love a bitter drink: Black coffee and unsweetened tea are delicious.
But this Negroni? Something went very wrong here, at least for my taste buds.
Upon the first sip, this drink had a lot of bite – it was so bitter and reminded me of cleaning chemicals. Weird.
It seemed like the ginger only accentuated the bitterness of the drink while also overpowering the sweeter components, like the orange.
Ray’s recipe included brand preferences.
Ray’s recipe had a few specific suggestions for every type of alcohol in the recipe, but they were quite pricey.
Since they were just suggestions, I decided to stick to a tighter budget and chose more affordable options of the same types of alcohol.
This recipe couldn’t have been easier to throw together.
This drink would be great to make for a dinner party, since it’s so simple and fast to prepare from start to finish.
I also liked that Ray’s recipe called for lemon peel instead of orange, which seemed like a fun twist.
The recipe had no shortage of citrus.
I put everything – including the lemon peel – in a shaker, shook it around, and strained it into a glass. The drink is served neat, meaning there is no ice in the final cocktail.
I peeled a bit extra lemon peel, so I gave it a quick garnish.
I found this Negroni to be quite refreshing.
My initial reaction was that this Negroni was very citrusy – I loved that.
This drink wasn’t nearly as bitter as the others since it had just a bit of that bite as an aftertaste. My only regret is that I didn’t put enough ice in the shaker, so the served drink wasn’t nearly as cold as I would have liked.
The recipe recommends between 1 to 2 ounces of aperol. I went straight for the middle, 1.5 ounces, and thought it was perfect. I like the flavour of lemon more than orange anyway, so that swap was a great move in my book.
If I make this drink in the future, I would serve it over ice instead of neat, as well – the colder, the better.
Samuelsson offered the most unique take on the Negroni.
Swapping a homemade, infused bourbon for gin? Sign me up! Despite requiring a longer list of ingredients, I was excited to get started on this bourbon Negroni recipe from chef Samuelsson.
Since the recipe required fresh vanilla beans, the drink became a bit pricey – but I felt the fresh ingredients would result in a really flavorful cocktail.
This was the most difficult drink to prepare, and I spent two weeks waiting to even start making it.
While the other recipes primarily involved shaking and pouring, Samuelsson’s required me to chop pears and seed figs and a vanilla bean to infuse the bourbon.
It took me a while to do all of this prep work, only to have to wait two weeks before I could even start making a cocktail.
Eventually, I was able to prepare the drink.
I was only able to find dried figs, rather than fresh, so I hoped the painstaking process of seeding dried figs would be worth it in the end.
After the two weeks, I strained the bourbon, then added 2 ounces of it along with an ounce each of Campari and sweet vermouth to a glass.
Again, unlike the other recipes, this one is stirred, not shaken, for precisely 90 seconds. I then strained it into a cocktail glass, serving it neat with an orange slice as garnish.
This bourbon-based Negroni delicately balanced the bitter Campari with the sweeter ingredients.
Although I’m a fan of gin – and am one to rarely reach for bourbon – I enjoyed the more complex flavours of this Negroni. I definitely tasted some sweetness: vanilla, pear, fig, citrus.
But the bitterness of the Campari balanced it out, keeping it from being too sweet.
This isn’t a beverage I’d make in the summertime (that bourbon will definitely warm you from the inside out!), but it would be great in the fall or early winter.
Bertinelli’s recipe is more traditional.
Bertinelli sticks to the classic Negroni ingredients: gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, and orange peel.
I expected a balance of sweet and bitter here. Since it’s a drink comprised almost entirely of alcohol, I also expected it to be quite boozy.
This is another Negroni recipe that was a breeze to put together.
Shake, pour, twist. I simply poured an ounce of each alcohol into a shaker full of ice, shook it, and poured it over an ice-filled glass.
The finishing touch for this cocktail was a bit of orange peel.
For garnish, I used a vegetable peeler to carefully remove a strip of orange peel.
I twisted the orange peel directly over the drink because this releases the oils in the skin (I smelled them right away as I twisted) and gives the drink more of that fresh orange flavour.
Bertinelli’s Negroni was still pretty bitter, but the additional orange flavour was a nice touch.
This drink was still bitter, which was hard for me to enjoy. It wasn’t quite as bitter as Fieri’s, and I think the twist of the orange peel definitely helped brighten the flavour.
By the time I made this fourth Negroni, I learned that I prefer a little less of the Campari in my drinks.
Overall, the more unique recipes were my favourites.
Although the classic Negroni has plenty of loyal fans, it just wasn’t for me.
Fieri’s and Bertinelli’s recipes just came across as too bitter for me, but they’re sure to be hits for those who like their drinks not-so-sweet.
Meanwhile, Ray’s Negroni was my top pick. It was the least bitter and the most refreshing, especially considering I was drinking it in the summertime. I loved the citrus-forward flavour and the substitution of lemon for orange.
But come fall and winter, Samuelsson’s warming, bourbon Negroni (often called a Boulevardier) will be a welcome addition to my list of preferred cocktails, especially as pears and citrus hit their peaks.
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