Over the years, I’ve become a huge fan of a Negroni. Some might say it’s a bitter cocktail, but it’s perfect over ice, contains no added mixers and the “medicinal” (and I use that term lightly) history of it’s 3 simple ingredients intrigued me.
First things first…
HOW TO MAKE A NEGRONI:
A classic negroni consists of the following ingredients:
- 1 part Campari
- 1 part Sweet Vermouth
- 1 part Gin
- Ice and fresh orange
WHAT IS CAMPARI?
Campari’s original recipe was entirely natural, flavoured with 68 different fruits, herbs and spices, including quinine, rhubarb, ginseng and the peel of bitter oranges, which were all combined and macerated in a blend of distilled water and alcohol.
So what changed? Originally, Campari’s distinctive red colour was attained via the addition of the red colouring naturally produced by the South American cochineal insect. Unfortunately, some people were allergic to cochineal colouring and after 2007, the official recipe changed to include artificial colouring. Bummer!
Can we avoid the artificial colouring? A number of websites/blogs have suggested switching Campari for Gran Classico Bitter. It’s made from a maceration of 25 aromatic herbs and roots including wormwood, gentian, bitter orange peel, rhubarb, and hyssop and skips the artificial colouring. It’s not as red as Campari, more a burnt orange, however still tastes nice.
WHAT IS SWEET VERMOUTH?
Sweet Vermouth is a fortified wine that has spices, seeds, roots, bark and herbs, sugar (sometimes from beets, sometimes not), and alcohol is added to it before ageing.
The word “vermouth” comes from the German word for wormwood, a plant with powerful medicinal qualities that has been ingested for centuries to treat varying ailments however it’s true claim to fame is an aperitif (another stimulant to digestion). Whether or not the medicinal properties of Wormwood translate to Sweet Vermouth has yet to be disclosed.
WHAT IS GIN?
Juniper berries, the main ingredient found in gin, has been used traditionally to combat infection, renal insufficiency, bad coughs and lung congestion however, full disclaimer – the science fails to define whether or not these benefits translate across to gin.
SO WHY DID I POST THIS?
It’s a cocktail without any added sugar and in some traditional cultures these liquors are still used as digestive tonics. Not only that, these alcohols are made using a range of medicinal herbs and spices, something that really blew my mind.
It got me thinking, is alcohol all that bad or does it only become a problem when we consume it in excess? Yes, it still has to be detoxified by the liver, but when consumed sparingly, in a relaxed and present state, could alcohol have it’s place as an aperitif or is it complete fiction? A lot of questions raised, and not a lot of answers, but a topic for discussion nonetheless.
FULL DISCLAIMER, I am not a doctor, nor do I encourage, recommend or suggest anyone takes up drinking any of these liquors for their unsubstantiated “medicinal” qualities. This is merely a piece discussing the origins and ingredients of these liquors.
Always DRINK RESPONSIBLY.