Why I’m intrigued by a Negroni

Negroni Ingredients - An Apple a Day

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…


A classic negroni consists of the following ingredients:

    • 1 part Campari
    • 1 part Sweet Vermouth
    • 1 part Gin
    • Ice and fresh orange


Campari’s original recipe was entirely natural, flavoured with 68 different fruits, herbs and spices, including quinine, rhubarbginseng 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. 


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. 


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.  


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.


  1. Megan T

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. I must try a Negroni! I’ll see if I can find Gran Classico Bitter. What a shame that manufacturers feel the need to add colour to products!

  2. Alyse

    Let me know if you like it!


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Meet Alyse

I’m a qualified Nutritionist who believes an evidence-based approach to modern nutrition is severely under-rated. Patients are so often left in the dark when it comes to health-care and as a firm believer in the old saying “knowledge is power”, my ultimate goal is to provide my readers, students and patients with clear and actionable advice that ultimately helps you reach your full potential.