For a drink that originated in Florence 100 years ago, it's certainly taken a while for the iconic negroni to become the king of the cocktail scene in Australia. But Negroni Week lets this royal tipple finally get the kind of attention it rightfully deserves.
While the aim of Negroni Week is to get your friends to salute the bittersweet charm of the cocktail at participating bars, a few boutique distillers have instead focused on creating the perfect negroni-to-go so lovers of the drink can raise a glass from the comforts of their own home.
Last year Melbourne-based distillers Four Pillars cashed in on this demand for a top shelf, pre-made cocktail when their limited-edition negroni take home bottle became an instant hit.
"We sold out of the negroni bottles in three days… we knew it would be a success we didn't expect the massive blow out that followed," says Four Pillars Creative Director James Irvine.
This year Four Pillars are offering four new take-home varieties that pull flavour notes from Australia's diverse landscape.
There's Woodland, a herbaceous negroni based on their Rare Dry Gin inspired by a quintessential Aussie rainforest; Coastal, a nod to Sydney's beaches; Metropolitan, which is based on their Spiced Negroni Gin with some roasted coffee and toasted bread flavours; and the bold and distinct Desert.
But there's one catch. These can only be purchased at the Four Pillars distillery or a participating pop-up bar like Garden State Hotel in Melbourne and The Dolphin Hotel Surry Hills.
Luxury at home
Whether they roll these packs into a regular offering remains to be seen. For now they're limited to Negroni Week.
"We've done the hard work for the drinkers with these packs," explains Irvine.
"We've made the negroni drink and pre-diluted it. Dilution sounds like a dirty word when it comes to cocktails, but it creates balance. All you have to do at home is serve it chilled over ice, it couldn't be easier," he says.
Irvine says consumers want luxury take home cocktails that are on par with what they'd be served in a high-end bar.
"People don't want to go out every night of the week, so we're about drinking better, not more. In turn there's a demand for something you can fix at home," he says.
Top shelf to go
Liberty Spirit Co., run by Bar Liberty in Melbourne, have now been making their own negroni take home bottles for three years. The venue works with Reed & Co. Distillery in Bright, Victoria and sources their vermouth locally as well. The Negroni bottles are sold in a 90ml format via Blackhearts & Sparrows and at their Fitzroy venue.
According to owner Michael Bascetta, they wanted to create the kind of take-away experience that exactly replicated what you would have in the restaurant.
"The idea to make our bottles came down to wanting to serve a consistently good quality negroni to our customers," says Bascetta.
"We knew if we had to make 100 on a busy night, shaking and stirring them in a busy time would make it hard to keep them consistently good. By doing some research into batching and bottling cocktails, we saw a market need for quality and it's selling really well for us."
To stand out in the growing market, The Liberty Co. created a label playing on '80s computer game graphics.
"When we started a lot of what we saw in graphic design for negronis was all very Scandinavian clean and simple design. We wanted to take a fun approach with a digital nod to an era we all remember," says Bascetta.
South of the border
In Tasmania, master distiller Louise Radman from Sud Polaire turns to the South Pole for inspiration with their kitsch negroni Pocket Pack.
"There is such a high demand for negroni's – it's such a classic," says Radman.
"We have a lot of tourism in Tasmania and we thought it would be a good idea to have a drink like that which is transportable for people," she says.
The Antarctic is a modern white negroni (think bitter herbal) while the classic is bitter sweet.
"Sud Polaire is about embracing that cold climate we have in Tasmania, so the style of spirit we make echoes that pristine Antarctic environment. All our botanicals are organic, we triple distil and use local juniper and seaweed from the southern ocean too," she says.
"Everybody loves a negroni, but we give it our own Southern spin."