"I drink with guilt, so I feel guilty most of the time," goes the saying for tipplers like me with Irish and Jewish heritage. Good news for us, it's Negroni Week, a time for cocktails mixed with a bit of charity. So instead of tying myself in knots over a few indulgences, I'll tie a few on.
Now in its third year, Negroni Week's seven days of summer commemorate the beloved 1920's Italian cocktail by engaging mixologists across the globe to create new twists on an old favorite. Better yet, for every concoction sold, a portion of the proceeds goes to the charity of each establishment's choice. (A few extra-philanthropic watering holes donate 100% of each sale.)
The program's first two years raised more than $120,000 for organizations ranging from the hyper-local, like the Boys and Girls Club of the Truckee Meadows Nevada while others support more marquee non-profits like UNICEF.
For my 2015 Negroni Week experience, I headed to Birreria, Manhattan's hot-ticket roof bar that's part of Eataly, Oscar Farinetti's massive Italian market. There was no signage or menu information anywhere, so I had to inquire with the server, "Are you doing anything for Negroni Week?" "Yes," he said. "Making Negronis." Okaaay.
Eataly New York is touting Negroni on Tap at Birreria, where visitors can get a standard Negroni of Campari, Antica Formula sweet vermouth and local Greenhook Ginsmiths gin. Mine was mediocre (I had a far superior one last week in Santa Monica at the Back Room Bar), but I liked knowing that 7 percent of my $14 libation went to support the Food Bank for New York City. My advice through Sunday is to call your favorite watering hole first to find out how exactly they're participating and be proactive when you get there.
Some places are upping the creative ante, however, and thinking beyond the bottle. San Francisco's Craftsman & Wolves is serving up Negroni marshmallows in the Mission while East Harlem's ABV is whipping up delectable Negroni pies.
No matter how you enjoy it, it's Negroni Week. Have a few drinks (and desserts) with a little less guilt. Sláinte, l'chaim and, of course, cin cin.
The Classic Negroni (c/o Imbibe magazine)
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Tools: mixing glass, bar spoon, strainer
Glass: cocktail or double rocks
Garnish: orange twist
Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass (or ice-filled double rocks glass) and garnish.
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