Negroni Sbagliato, the wrong or right negroni for you?

The sun had enough and the simmering sky has the heave and the hue of a woman on fire. These songlines of the Elbow song “Forget Myself” were more than apt to describe my feeling looking at the Roman sun sinking behind the Colosseum. It was aperitivo hour and I was sipping a badly made mojito. It must have shown, because my neighbour asked: “Mojito sbagliato, lady?”, which means something along the lines of “wrong mojito, lady” in Italian. I had to laugh, and responded “God is in the details”, which made him smile. When Mies Van Der Rohe, a German architect, famously said “God is in the details”, he was right. You have to focus to make a good cocktail and the mojito is no exception.

I asked him what he was drinking. “A Negroni.” He paused for a moment and pointed at his drink. “Equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, on ice, with a little orange peel. The Negroni is so simple that even the worst bartender can’t mess it up.” “You know the origin of the Negroni?” I nodded my head, no. “The Negroni was reportedly invented by Count Camillo Negroni (around 1920), when he asked the bartender at Café Casoni in Florence to pour gin instead of soda into his favorite cocktail the Americano. The bartender also garnished the glass with an orange peel (rather than the typical lemon peel of the Americano) to signify that it was a different drink.

There are different varariations on the classic Negroni. Like the Negroski, where the gin is replaced by vodka, or the Sparkling Negroni, with champagne and some drops of orange juice”. Did you ever try the Negroni sbagliato, the wrong or mistaken Negroni? I think you will like it”. He went to the bar and came back with a glass similar to his, only lighter in color. “Try this.”  To my suprise it was a most refreshing cocktail. This was certainly an aperitivo for me.

“The Negroni sbagliato was created in Bar Basso in Milan in the sixties by a bartender who mistakenly replaced the gin with dry sparkling wine. It not only changes the alcohol content, but the flavour also becomes lighter, bubblier. It is a perfect summer drink and the Italians, especially the Milanese, love it.” Are you from Milano?  “No, I am from Florence, but I have lived as long as I can remember in Rome.” He hesitated: “although I still feel like a Fiorentino”. He gave me a sly wink with his eye. “You can call me a Roman sbagliato.”

Three equal parts of Campari, Martini and (sweet) red vermouth or to be more precise

  • 1 ounce (or 3 cl) Campari
  • 1 ounce (or 3 cl) Martini or Cinzano or any other red sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce (or 3 cl) dry Spumante or sparkling brut wine
  • half a slice of orange or orange peel


Fill an old-fashioned glass with 4-5 ice cubes. Add the vermouth and Campari, then top it off with the sparkling wine. To stir or not to stir is up to your personal taste. Garnish with half a slice of orange or orange peel.