This twist on the classic Negroni, retains the characteristic herbaceous, bitterness of the original but adds a rich smoky element by replacing the gin with mezcal. The Smoked Negroni is a complex and challenging cocktail, but a great choice for anyone who’s a fan of the original or a lover of agave-based spirits.
Mezcal, Campari, Sweet Vermouth – Rocks Glass*
*premium glassware pictured, event glassware may differ.
The Smoked Negroni is a great twist on an already grown-up drink. The bitter complexity of the Negroni meant it took a while to build up popularity but its now a firm favourite among drinkers everywhere.
This version replaces gin with mezcal. This smoky spirit is the traditional form of tequila, a liquor distilled from the hearts of agave cacti which have been roasted in an underground fire-pit to give the spirit its distinctive flavour. Mezcal has a similar richness and complexity to Islay scotch, and with its deep botanical base makes a perfect alternative to gin in this classic cocktail.
The smoky flavour of mezcal isn’t for everybody so if you’re planning on serving a Smoked Negroni, it might be worth featuring the original too to give your guests some variety. For those who are set on an agave-based menu, mezcal can be used in place of tequila in a lot of cocktails to give an added smoky flavour. A classic Margarita or Paloma is transformed by this simple substitution, but the original tequila versions work as a solid choice for those who prefer their drinks milder or sweeter. You could offer both options to fully showcase the versatility of this curious cactus and its by-products.
The Smoked Negroni is a Mexican spin on a classic Italian-styled amaro cocktail. There are a whole family of similar drinks which mix vermouths and bitter liqueurs to create bitter and herbal cocktails with a mild sweetness, and a generally a low enough alcohol content to be consumed all evening. Some other great aperitivo-style cocktails are the Americano; the forefather of Negroni and a much lighter version featuring soda water in place of the gin, and the Aperol Spritz; the most famous and popular of the aperitivos and the perfect mixture of bitter and sweet to help quench thirsts on a hot summer evening.
If you’re keen to feature a Smoked Negroni as part of your menu and want to know more about what cocktails might go well with it, be sure to speak to your event organiser, or check out some other mezcal and tequila based, aperitivo, and short-style cocktails from our list.
This cocktail, sometimes known as a Negringo, is a common spin on the Negroni, the deep smoky flavour of the mezcal with its subtle herbaceous and savoury notes, pairs brilliantly with the already bitter and herbal components of this celebrated cocktail and transform it without overpowering its distinctive character.
Despite its relative popularity in the cocktail world, tracing the origin of this Negroni-spin proves fairly difficult, it seems that with mezcal’s renaissance over the last 2 decades, bartenders from all over the world have been struck with the idea of adding this savoury spirit to the notorious amaro cocktail.
Myths & Legends
With such a sparse background, this delicious spin on a Negroni has little in the way of lore surrounding it but it’s primary ingredient, mezcal, has been the subject of various rumours and speculation throughout its tenure.
Perhaps one of the most common rumours surrounding this Mexican spirit concerns its supposed hallucinatory properties, with it baring such a similar name to the active ingredient in the psychotropic cactus, peyote; mescaline, it’s understandable that people would make this connection, but mezcal is produced using agave cacti, the same family used to make tequilas, sotols, raicillas and bacanoras, this cactus as far as we know, does not have any hallucinogenic properties. However, some mezcals—particularly those home-brewed, nameless varieties found in Mexico—have a particularly high-strength, so, much like absinthe, this potency may have something to do with the apparent ‘trips’ people have had after drinking it.
One of the earliest references we can find for a mezcal based negroni comes from cocktail blog, cold-glass.com. Writer, Doug Ford, states that he stumbled across this twist after being introduced to a tequila negroni, after trying this interesting spin he was naturally inspired to try it with tequilas smokier, more savoury cousin.
“What about Mezcal?
That’s the thought that was nagging at me as I tested the tequila version—it seemed like this was a natural combination of flavors to match with smoke. There was nothing for it but to try a mezcal version, and it worked even better than I hoped. I’ll stick with this version from now on.”
- Doug Ford, cold-glass.com
Ingredients & Equipment
One of our favourite mezcal brands is Quiquiriqui, this company was started by a London-based former spirit rep whose passion for agave led her to begin importing and distributing this underrated spirit herself. They offer a range of different mezcals, for cocktails we recommend their traditional ‘joven’ variety: Quiquiriqui Matatlan.
- 25ml Mezcal
- 25ml Campari
- 25ml Sweet Vermouth
- Orange Slice or Twist for Garnish
- Bar Spoon
- Rocks Glass
- Cubed Ice
- Take your rocks glass
- Using your jigger to measure, add the mezcal, Campari and vermouth to the glass
- Fill the glass ⅔ with cubed ice
- Holding your bar spoon between your thumb and your forefinger, gently stir the cocktail, being careful not to chip the ice
- Stir briefly to combine the ingredients and incorporate the ice
- Top your glass up with a little more ice if needed
- Garnish with an orange slice or orange twist
- Serve and enjoy!
For larger groups of six or more students, we offer the option to take things private. Our classes are fully portable, and we are able to set ourselves up efficiently and professionally in a wide variety of locations and settings across the capital, the UK, and beyond. You name the location, and we’ll endeavour to make it happen.
Give one of our dedicated event organisers a call on 020 8003 7982. They’ll happily talk you through your options, and answer any questions you may have about both our mobile and in-house cocktail making classes.