A Sesame Street Cocktail -- The Negroni
The Negroni is a quintessential classic cocktail. What does it have to do with Sesame Street, the popular long running American educational television show for kids? As a proud Sesame Street "graduate," I can tell you the Count was one of my favorite characters. The Negroni's history also involves a Count. In 1919 Count Camillo Negroni, an Italian nobleman (unlike the Count, he was not modeled off of Bela Lugosi's interpretation of Count Dracula in the movies) asked Fosco Scarselli, his bartender, to strengthen his favorite cocktail. The result became famous around the world.
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with Italian flair and grace (or the Count's deliberate cadence), and strain into a chilled glass or a glass with ice. Orange peel garnish optional.
The Negroni is a great gateway cocktail for people who haven't experienced gin or an amaro (bitter liqueur). Campari, an indispensable ingredient, is a widely available amaro with a vague orange taste. One of the great features of the traditional Negroni is how easy it is to make. Three ingredients, equal proportions. If you like one ingredient more than the others, you always can adjust the ratio. Although in modern times one typically serves the Negroni in a rocks glass, at the time of its creation it's more likely one would serve it in a smaller, more delicate glass. Unfortunately for Scarselli, Negroni got the credit.
The Negroni lends itself to all sorts of variations. Substitute bourbon for the gin? Now you have a Boulevardier. Reduce and switch the Campari for Fernet Branca? Now you have a Hanky Panky. The cocktail can be like what I imagine the Count (the one from Florence, not Sesame Street) was like in real life -- sophisticated, elegant, and powerful.
So how many Negronis will you have? Start counting like the Count from Sesame Street ... one ... two ... ha ha ha ha.