This strawberry-infused twist on the classic Negroni adds a layer of summer flavor that contrasts beautifully with the bitter, citrusy bite of Campari.
If you’re new to the Negroni, a strawberry infusion is the perfect way to soften the bitterness and make the intense flavor of Campari a little more accessible. But even seasoned Negroni drinkers and those who already love Campari will enjoy this fruit-forward riff!
The history of the Negroni
The Negroni is a classic cocktail dating back to about 1919 in Florence, Italy. Pascal Olivier Count de Negroni allegedly ordered an Americano (also known as the Milano-Torino) with gin in place of soda water.
The bartender who stirred up this first Negroni was named Fosco Scarselli. Soon, the drink became a popular, boozier alternative to the Americano, even being sold as a ready-to-drink known as Antica Negroni.
Interestingly, some say it was actually Pascal’s grandfather, Count Luigi Negroni, who invented the Negroni. It’s unclear exactly which Negroni made it first, but the drink has retained the family’s name and only continued to grow in popularity over the past 100 years.
Today there are dozens of variations on this classic three ingredient cocktail. The most popular riffs are the Boulevardier, which uses bourbon in place of the gin, and the Negroni Sbagliato, which uses sparkling wine.
Other Negroni riffs include the Aquavit Negroni, the White Negroni (gin, Suze or Bitter Bianco, and Lillet Blanc), and the Old Pal (rye whiskey, Campari, dry vermouth).
What you need to make it
- Sweet vermouth
- Fresh or frozen strawberries
- Mason jar(s)
- Optional: other berries like raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries
Gin: A traditional Negroni calls for a classic, juniper-forward London dry gin. One of the fun things about making a Strawberry Negroni is that you can also experiment with different gin flavor profiles.
The strawberry Campari is great with a standard gin like Bombay Sapphire or Tanquerary, but is also pairs well with citrusy or even floral gins. Some interesting options to try are Malfy’s lineup of lemon, blood orange, and grapefruit gins (Con Limone, Con Arancia, Gin Rosa).
Sweet vermouth: use a high quality sweet vermouth for the best-tasting cocktail. Sweet vermouth adds sweetness and herbal flavors to a Negroni. Carpano Antica is an excellent, full-flavored sweet vermouth. You can use a more mellow vermouth such as Dolin to allow more of the strawberry Campari and gin flavors to shine through.
Campari: There really is no substitute for this staple red, bitter liqueur. Campari gives the Negroni its signature bright red color as well as it’s bold, bitter flavor. Campari is an Italian liqueur that was invented in 1860 by Gaspare Campari. It’s made with a secret blend of herbs and fruit and it has a complex flavor that’s best described as a blend of citrus and spice. In addition to the Negroni, Campari is also great in a simple highball like my Pineapple Campari Soda or in a spritz like my Cranberry Campari Spritz.
Strawberries: You can use fresh or frozen berries. Frozen strawberries will actually make for a quicker infusion because the tiny ice shards within the fruits rupture the berries when they melt.
How to make strawberry-infused Campari
Campari is easy to infuse with a variety of fruits. To make your infusion, fill a mason jar or other sealable glass container about half way with washed and chopped strawberries. Cover the fruit with Campari, filing the jar as much as you like (leave about an inch at the top). Close the jar and give it a good shake, then place it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
After 24-48 hours, you’ll have delicious strawberry Campari. You can choose to let it infuse longer, but I find that about two days is perfect. Strain out the solids (they’re amazing on ice cream!) and store the liquid in a closed jar or bottle. I like to keep my infused liqueurs in the refrigerator for maximum shelf life. Strawberry Campari will last at least a few weeks, but I like to use mine while it’s at its freshest for the best flavor.
How to make it a triple berry Negroni
Take this berry Negroni a step further by making it a Triple Berry Negroni! Infuse your Campari with strawberries, then infuse your gin and your sweet vermouth with other fresh berries. I like to infuse my gin with blackberries or blueberries, and my sweet vermouth with raspberries. When you combine an ounce of each of these berry-infused spirits, you’ll have a delightfully fruit-forward yet still perfectly bittersweet Negroni.
Strawberry Negroni Recipe
- 1 oz gin
- 1 oz strawberry-infused Campari*
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and fill it 3/4 with ice.
- Stir until well chilled, about 30 times. Strain the liquid into a rocks glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with an expressed lemon or orange peel and a strawberry.
- 1 cup chopped strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1-2 cups Campari