The simplest cocktails are often the hardest to perfect, and there are fewer drinks that exemplify this statement as much as a negroni. This aperitif was first made in 1919 in Florence at the behest of a Count, and has since become one of the most iconic Italian cocktails drunk across the globe. It takes three ingredients to build a negroni, with each poured into the glass at an equal ratio — gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Use the right components and you get a bittersweet beverage that instantly refreshes and jolts the appetite. Do it wrong and you get an uncomfortably dry mouthful that tastes more medicinal than magical.
Nearly every cocktail menu has a negroni within its pages, but its quality is always a gamble, especially if the bar gets a tad too experimental with the make-up of the drink. You have to kiss (drink?) a lot of frogs before you find a bar that serves good negronis, but fortunately for you, we’ve done the legwork to suss out our five favourites around town. Salute!
You wouldn’t expect a Middle Eastern café to be one where you’d find a decent remix of a negroni, but the Fat Prince proves that wrong. Its Beirut Negroni twists the template of the cocktail with a pink peppercorn-infused gin, giving this interpretation a slight peppery kick that adds another layer to the usual combination of sweet and bitter.
Fat Prince, #01-01, 48 Peck Seah St, Singapore 079317, +65 6221 7794.
Singapore’s fledgeling Italian bar, Marcello, is home to the largest collection of amari in Southeast Asia, but it also houses one of the most unique takes on a negroni we’ve enjoyed. Its Smoked Black Olive Negroni is a cocktail the bar has become synonymous with. Campari, gin and vermouth form the customary building blocks that are given a punch of brine with the cherrywood-smoked black olives that garnish the cocktail. Perfectly balanced and assertive in its moreishness, this negroni is one for those that love their drinks savoury.
Marcello, 1 Nanson Rd, Singapore 238909, +65 6826 5041
There’s a reason why the Solera-aged Negroni has remained Manhattan’s signature since its opening and has never been dethroned. Its negroni is not merely barrel-aged but aged through a solera system based in-house for six weeks in customised casks. Solera ageing is a process commonly used with sherry. Wines from older barrels are combined with those from newer ones to ensure consistency in flavour across the portfolio, and Manhattan has adopted this method for their best-selling cocktail. This maturation process intensifies the flavours of the negroni, imparting a toffee-like richness that seals the deal on all levels.
Manhattan Singapore, Regent Hotel, 1 Cuscaden Rd, Level 2, Singapore 249715, +65 6725 3377
Singapore’s sophomore Italian bar, Caffe Fernet, is one of the best places in the city to enjoy the Italian ethos of la dolce vita with a negroni in hand. The bar offers four renditions of the cocktail that you can experiment with, but we have a soft spot for its Classic Negroni. Sticking true to the maxim, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” this negroni is impeccably made with Beefeater gin, Campari and Cinzano Rosso vermouth. Go sip on it as you enjoy the riverside view, preferably as you gear up to dig into some of the café’s quality pastas.
Caffe Fernet, #01-05, 70 Collyer Quay, Customs House, Singapore 049323, +65 9178 1105.
Negronis get the aged treatment at 28HKS, and have been that way since time immemorial. The clandestine bar’s Barrel-aged Negroni has staunchly remained one of its signatures thanks to the intense profile of honey and herbs that come through after sitting in a barrel. The bar also takes great care to make sure that the ice adds, not detracts from the quality of the cocktail, so only triple-distilled water is used to make the frozen, hand-carved cube that eventually finds its way into your perfect pour.
28HKS, 28 HongKong Street, Singapore 059667.