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The mezcal Negroni puts a smoky spin on this classic cocktail! The way the smoke of mezcal balances the bitter Campari makes an even better drink.

Mezcal Negroni
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Looking for a complex, sippable drink? Here’s a cocktail that improves on the classic: the mezcal Negroni! This drink takes all that’s good about a Negroni, and makes it even better. The intense smokiness of mezcal perfectly balances the sweetness of the vermouth and bitterness of Campari. We much prefer spin-offs of the Negroni to the real thing, like the Boulevardier and the Americano, and this one is just as good!

Love mezcal? Make sure to try our Mezcal Margarita, Mezcal Sour, and Mezcal Mule.

What’s in a mezcal Negroni?

A Negroni is an Italian cocktail invented back in the 1920’s by a Count Negroni in Florence, Italy (or so the story goes). It’s a classic cocktail that’s on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means that there’s an “official” definition, which is gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. The mezcal Negroni just swaps mezcal for gin! The ingredients in a mezcal Negroni are equal parts:

  • Mezcal
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Campari
How to make a mezcal Negroni

How to make a mezcal Negroni (basic steps)

The mezcal Negroni is so easy to make and memorize: use just 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of each of the ingredients! You don’t even need a cocktail shaker. Simply stir it together in a cocktail mixing glass, or any glass you have on hand. Here are the basic steps to make it (or go to the recipe below):

  • Mix. Add the ingredients to a mixing glass with 1 handful of ice and stir for 30 seconds. This chills the cocktail and dilutes it less than shaking in a cocktail shaker would.
  • Strain and serve. Strain into a lowball or Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.
  • Express the citrus. Cut a 1-inch wide piece of orange peel. Squeeze it over the top of the drink, then run it around the edge of the glass.

That’s it! Scroll down to the recipe, or below we’ll share more about each of the ingredients.

Mezcal

The best mezcal for a Negroni

Mezcal is a type of alcohol made from the agave plant. Here’s an interesting fact: tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. Tequila is made from only one type of agave plant (blue agave), but mezcal can be made from 11 different varieties of agave. For mezcal, the agave is cooked in pits in the ground (for tequila, it’s not). This is what gives it that signature smoky flavor!

Like most drinks, the quality of the cocktail depends on the quality of the liquor. Look for a mid-priced or higher bottle of mezcal: typically this corresponds to the quality of the liquor.

Want more mezcal cocktails? Try Mezcal Paloma, Mezcal Mule, Mezcal Sour, and Mezcal Margarita.

What is vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning liquor has been added to stabilize it. There are two main types of vermouth: sweet (usually red) and dry (usually white). Sweet vermouth is subtly sweet and spicy, with a hit of bitter on the back end. Important storage note: Make sure to store vermouth in the refrigerator! It stays good for up to 3 months.

Sweet vermouth is used in many classic cocktails: most famously the ManhattanNegroni and the Americano. It’s very versatile! Dry white vermouth is used in martinis, like the Classic MartiniDirty Martini and Cucumber Martini.

Campari

About Campari

Campari is an Italian bitter with a bright red jewel-toned color! It’s what makes a Negroni a Negroni, and is also used in the Americano. It’s infused with different herbs and fruits (of a secret recipe), so it has a complex flavor: bitter, fruity and spicy all at once! The flavor is very distinctive, so it has lovers and haters. To us, the mezcal in this mezcal Negroni is a better balance for the Campari than the gin in the classic cocktail.

Got a bottle of Campari? You can try all these great Campari Cocktails! A favorite is the Jungle Bird, a tropical rum drink, or the Garibaldi, an Italian cocktail with Campari and orange.

More Negroni variations

Just like any classic drink: there’s lots of other variations on the Negroni outside of this one with mezcal. Here are all the variations to try:

When to serve a mezcal Negroni

The mezcal Negroni cocktail is a sophisticated and complex cocktail, great for slow sipping. It works as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
Mezcal negroni
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Mezcal negroni

Mezcal Negroni


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4 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x

Description

The mezcal Negroni puts a smoky spin on this classic cocktail! The way the smoke of mezcal balances the bitter Campari makes an even better drink.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) mezcal
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sweet or semi-sweet red vermouth
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Campari
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)
  • For the garnish: Orange peel

Instructions

  1. Combine the mezcal, sweet vermouth, and Campari in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
  2. Add ice to a lowball or Old Fashioned glass, and strain the drink into the glass (or you can use a cocktail glass without ice).
  3. Use a knife to remove a 1″ wide strip of the orange peel. Squeeze the orange peel into the drink to release the oils. Gently run the peel around the edge of the glass, then place it in the glass and serve.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

More classic cocktails

Here are a few more of our best classic cocktails you might also enjoy:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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3 Comments

  1. Jim Bean says:

    At the top of the page there is a “vegan” icon. Maybe not so…:
    Old school Campari’s color comes from the cochineal insect… the modern campari is rumored not to use it, but alternatives like Bruto Americano , I believe, is so beautifully-colored with those bug guts!….






  2. JRC says:

    While you can’t express a lime nearly as well as an orange, I found it makes for a more mezcal-oriented garnish option! Thanks for a great adaptation of the traditional Negroni.






  3. Thomas Viele says:

    A lengthy article. You even go to some effort to explain mezcal vs. tequila. Yet when it comes to the drink you don’t tell which mezcal (e.g. Joven) works best here.