Summer of the Italian Cocktails

As someone who needs to have a strict gluten-free diet, I’m no stranger to cocktails. I prefer them over gluten-free beer and cider. The breadth of options is enticing, and the beauty of distillation makes most liquors (even those made from wheat or rye) gluten-free.  I am a frequent bourbon drinker, but it is nice to mix things up a bit.  Lately, the bitter Italian apéritifs have been really intriguing, and make for a refreshing summer drink, should summer weather ever decide to arrive.

Dry and bitter, Campari and Cynar mix well with vermouth and gin, and are excellent for sipping. Served with small snacks, and preferably sipped while wearing sunglasses at an outdoor table, these drinks will enhance your appetite without getting you drunk too quickly. Indeed, the Italians often drink a Campari cocktail on the weak side, refreshing it all throughout the afternoon, making for a lovely, gentle buzz.  The Negroni is a hugely classic Italian cocktail, and below is a simple recipe.

Via Huffington Post:

As the weather warms, we shed our jackets, open the windows, and we search for a new spring/summer cocktail. This spring we’ve been craving something refreshing after a long winter of sipping on bourbon and that oh-so-black stout.

Recently our eyes turned to the Negroni. A longtime favorite of many, new to yours truly. With its seductive red hue, its citrus highlights, and that long bite of bitter delight – we were charmed at first sip.

Although there are many tales of the Negroni’s conception – most agree that it was created by Count Camillo Negroni, who asked for a stronger variation to his favorite cocktail, the Americano (equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth with a dash of club soda, served over ice). The bartender added gin instead of soda water, and garnished the now legendary creation with an orange instead of a lemon.

What brilliance, we say.

Without further ado, the Classic Negroni, from cocktail guru Tony Abou-Ganim, “The Modern Mixologist”:

The Classic Negroni
1 oz Campari
1 oz Gin
1 oz sweet vermouth

Add ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir.
Strain into a rocks glass with new ice.
Garnish with an orange rind.

So go out to a decent liquor store to pick up a bottle of Campari. It will last you, and even if it seems just too bitter at first taste, don’t give up. This beautiful red liquor will intrigue you, and have you coming back for more.  Long live the Italians.

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