Salma Hayek has appropriate support

For some reason Agent Triple P is currently eschewing his usual Vodka Martini in favour of the Negroni especially, for some unfathomable reason, when in Canada. Partly we think that it's because it is difficult to get a really good Vodka Martini: the quality of the base ingredients is important, as is the size and temperature of the glass. Most bars do not chill the glass: a crucial mistake. Triple P has suffered from a lot of indifferent Martinis of late (although we did have a good one at the Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel the other week).

Whilst the ultimate test of a good bartender is the Martini, probably the second biggest challenge is the Negroni as it calls for absolute control of the proportions of the Gin, Campari and Rosso Vermouth that make up its constituents.

The Negroni was created (or so the story goes) in the Caffé Casoni in Florence in 1919 for Count Camillo Negroni who was getting bored with his usual cocktail, the Americano. Either he, or his barman, Fosco Scarselli, ditched the soda water and replaced it with gin. Sadly the Caffé Casoni is no longer there and the site is now Caffé Giacosa owned by and attached to the Milan fashion shop of Roberto Cavalli.

The Americano itself was first served in the 1860s by the creator of Campari, Gaspare Campari, in his Caffé Campari in Milan. Founded in 1867 this bar, on the Piazza del Duomo entrance of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is still going strong although now under the name of Caffé Zucca Bar Camparino. Agent Triple P spent many hours in it back in the late eighties and early nineties with a succession of lovely local women and his aristocratic friend M.

Jessica Alba likes it straight up

Originally this cocktail was known as the Milano-Torino because of the cities that provided the ingredients: Milan for Campari and Turin for Cinzano. It's name evolved due to the number of Americans seen drinking it; especially those escaping prohibition in the 1920s. It is the very first drink that Ian Fleming's James Bond orders (in Casino Royale- in which he also creates his classic Martini) although he later dismisses it as a "musical comedy drink".

Another supercharged red Italian production: the 1927 Fiat 806

The Negroni can be thought of, therefore, as a supercharged Americano. It needs to be scrupulously made from equal parts gin, Campari and rosso vermouth; a few centilitres out for each ingedient unbalances the drink.

Jessica demonstrates the stemmed glass approach...

In North America the Negroni is often served "straight up" (that is chilled, strained and in a stemmed glass). This was certainly how mine were served in the bar of the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver this week. And very good they were too, with a properly chilled Martini glass and a twist of orange peel (lemon is completely wrong).

...and then fancies a tumbler

However, some maintain that a proper Negroni should be served in a tumbler with ice and that the melting of the ice contributes to the opening out of the drink. In the splendid Library Bar of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, where Agent Triple P will be shortly, this is how they serve them there. We think that the matter needs more research.

How do you want it?

Other people mess around with the ingredients: replacing gin with vodka (Negroski), using spumante instead of gin (Negroni Sbagliato), replacing the red vermouth with dry vermouth, fiddling with the proportions such as 3-2-1 Gin, Campari and Vermouth. However, none of these are real Negronis and Triple P wouldn't drink any of them.

So long boys...

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