A classic Italian apéritif, the Negroni consists of one part gin, one part Vermouth Rosso, and one part Campari, and is usually garnished with orange peel.
Traditionally, a Negroni is stirred, not shaken, and is made over ice in an old-fashioned or rocks glass.
With notes of cherry and citrus, the bitter aftertaste of the Negroni is considered an acquired taste, yet this simple cocktail has a dedicated fanbase, and, since the resurgence of mixology in the past few years, this fanbase is sure to keep on growing.
On the other hand, if you want to bring out the flavors of the sweet Vermouth and Campari, a lower-proof gin is a better choice and allows the gin to take a backseat.
With hundreds of gins to choose from, you might be wondering where to start in your search for the perfect gin for your Negroni.
Thankfully, we’ve done all the hard work for you, and have scoured the market for the top 7 gins to make the perfect Negroni…
Bombay Sapphire is one of the most famous gins in the world and was first launched in 1986 by English wine merchant IDV.
- ABV 47%
- Tasting notes: bright citrus, a touch of juniper, hints of spice
- Region: England
Its smooth and complex flavors are the perfect canvas for a Negroni, owing to its 10 precious botanicals which are suspended above the spirit in perforated copper baskets during distillation.
As the heated vapors rise, they mingle and become infused with the rich aromas of the botanicals.
Bombay Sapphire hand-selects each botanical to ensure only the finest ones find their way into their gin, creating a refreshing, clean, and bright flavor that is perfect either by itself or as an ingredient in a cocktail.
From the Moroccan cubeb berries to the spice of the West African Grains of Paradise, the ingredients are all-natural and are sustainably sourced from around the world, with the brand working hand in hand with independent farmers to source the best ingredients.
Tanqueray gin was previously voted number 1 gin by bartenders, and it’s one of the most popular gins when it comes to cocktails.
Tasting notes: juniper, coriander, angelica, and licorice
Tanqueray has a distinctive and classic taste that can be immediately recognized in a cocktail, so it’s perfect if you want to add a spice-forward addition to your Negroni.
Tanqueray was developed over 180 years ago in Bloomsbury, London, and has a balanced flavor with a unique herbal quality and dry finish.
The palate begins with juniper but finishes with rich hints of baking spices such as angelica root, cinnamon, and coriander seed. Long and slightly warm, the high alcohol content provides plenty of heat and a spice-forward finish.
Gordon’s was established by Alexander Gordon and began to take shape in 1769 when he built a distillery in Southwark, London, though in 1998 production was moved to Fife in Scotland, where it remains to this day.
Tasting notes: Juniper, citrus, herbs
It’s one of the most famous gins in the world, as well as the best-selling. It’s also been awarded four Royal Warrants and an impressive selection of international gin prizes.
Gordon’s is perfect if you’re looking for a simple, understated gin for your Negroni. It has notes of sweet juniper, lemon zest, and aromatic fresh herbs.
The palate is clean with a dry juniper delivery that develops into bright lemon flavors and a simple, medium-length finish.
Roku Japanese Gin
Looking for something a little different? How about a Japanese gin?
Tasting notes: yuzu, pepper, floral, green tea
Roku translates to the number six in Japanese, representing the six special botanicals that are sourced in Japan and are found in each bottle of Roku gin.
Roku Gin’s ingredients are of the highest quality, but many of these are also uniquely Japanese, which makes this spirit slightly different from English or American gins.
Roku has an unparalleled soft, round, and subtly sweet taste, with a floral aroma of cherry blossom and green tea.
The palette is complex and multi-layered, yet provides a harmonious blend of various botanicals. It has a smooth and silky texture, with top notes of yuzu and a spicy finish thanks to the crisp Japanese sansho pepper.
Hendrick’s Gin is a brand of gin produced by William Grant & Sons at the Girvan distillery, Scotland, and was established back in 1999.
Tasting notes: Rose and cucumber
It has a distinctly floral taste, with two main infusions of rose petal and cucumber.
This is perfect if you’re looking to add some additional flavors to your Negroni, as this Scottish gin also includes notes of coriander, chamomile, citrus peel, and of course, juniper.
Hendrick’s Gin is produced in small batches of just 500 liters at a time, to ensure maximum quality and freshness.
It’s also unique in the sense that it’s distilled in not one but two sorts of still – the Bennett, an antique copper pot dating back to 1860, and the rare Carter-Head, which dates back to 1948.
Beefeater Gin London Dry
Beefeater dry gin is a quintessential London dry gin with plenty of juniper character and strong citrus notes.
ABV: Formerly bottled at 47% ABV, it was re-launched in 2020 at 44% ABV for the U.S. market.
Tasting notes: juniper, citrus
The gin is still made in London with founder James Burrough’s original recipe of 9 botanicals featuring bold juniper, zesty Seville orange, and bright lemon peel.
This is a great option if you’re looking for an assertive gin that is not overpowering, as it has a pine-forward juniper nose and a touch of light citrus zest with a hint of sweet licorice.
Later in the palate, you’ll find darker, bitter citrus rind notes, coriander, and licorice which add roundness to the overall flavor.
The finish is medium length and characterized with clean, freshly-ground coriander, zesty lemon, and pine-tinged juniper, and there’s a lasting yet delicate warmth that is perfect for a Negroni.
New Amsterdam Gin
New Amsterdam Gin has received mixed reviews due to its citrus-forward taste which is lighter on the juniper end of things.
Tasting notes: Citrus, candied orange, vanilla
This gin is better if you want to place the focus on the Vermouth Rosso and Campari, as otherwise, you may want to dial up the gin if you want to taste the ethanol more.
NA gin provides notes of bright citrus, candied orange rinds, and an interesting lime/orange shift right in the mids which is something like lime/orange/lemon skittles! It has a smoothness to it and a hint of vanilla, too.
Its finish is short to moderate in length and the citrus dominates the palate, so if you’re looking for a more complex gin, New Amsterdam is best avoided.
What is Gin?
In most countries around the world, there are strict regulations around what can be classed as ‘gin.’ Generally speaking, gin must be a neutral spirit distilled from something natural like wheat, barley, potatoes, or grapes.
The flavors are derived from botanicals such as herbs, seeds, flowers, plants, or spices, which are added during production.
All gins must contain juniper berries, which should be its predominant flavor – otherwise, it can’t be classed as gin!
Gin also needs a minimum A.B.V percentage of 37.5% of pure alcohol in the total volume of liquid, and traditionally, there were three main types of gin: London Dry, Plymouth Gin, and Old Tom gin – but these are expanding and some modern gin transcends all of these categories.
You’ll find many innovative flavors on the market these days, and there’s a lot of debate on whether the definition of gin is too restrictive or broad. There are passionate arguments on both sides of the debate!
Choosing a Gin
Gin plays a vital role in a Negroni. While it acts as a canvas for the other ingredients, it can also offer its own complexity.
Even though the Negroni has just three ingredients to it, the overall flavor profile is complex, and much of the end result depends on the spirits you use, particularly the gin – as not all gins are equal.
It’s not just the gin’s botanical blend that influences its flavor profile, but its proof and body, too.
Alcohol proof is a measure of the amount of ethanol in an alcoholic beverage, and if you go for a higher-proof gin you’ll sense and taste its presence more in the Negroni.
Not all gins are created equal, and each brand offers its own blend of botanicals and ingredients that will influence the end result of your Negroni.
Juniper-led London Dry styles work well as these can stand up to the strong, bitter flavors of the Campari, as well as the herbal notes of the Vermouth.
As a rule of thumb, avoid choosing styles of gin that are recommended for Martinis, as these are generally milder – unless that’s what you want.
Juniper will obviously be present in all types of gin, however, alongside the obvious components, each gin has a different blend of flavors – whether it be citrus-led, spice-forward, or distinctively herbal.
Choose a gin that suits your taste and put your own twist on the classic Negroni.
How to Make a Negroni
You don’t need to be a professional to make a professional-standard Negroni.
There’s no need to get hung up on exact measurements or cocktail-making equipment. The easy 1:1:1 part recipe of the Negroni means you can use pretty much anything to measure out this trio of ingredients, as long as the quantities are equal.
Then pour them straight into your glass over ice and stir!
Garnish: Orange peel
Method: Pour the gin, Vermouth, and Campari into a mixing glass or shaker filled with ice and stir to mix. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish.
30ml sweet vermouth
Things to Consider
In the U.S., the two most popular types of gin are distilled and redistilled.
Distilled gin is made by distilling a mash, or fermented alcohol base, similar to the production of brandy or whiskey, whereas redistilled gin is made from the second distillation of a neutral spirit.
Both types of gin receive their flavor via an infusion of fresh or dried juniper berries and other botanical ingredients.
There’s also a third type of distillation known as compound gin, which mixes neutral spirit with juniper berry extract or essences, in addition to other aromatics, to gain flavor. This type of gin is less common and is also cheaper to buy.
As we mentioned previously, there are three main types of gins, but the industry is continually expanding.
London Dry gin is the most suitable for a Negroni. This type of gin is usually an indication of high-quality gin, and it tends to be light-bodied, highly aromatic, very dry, and juniper-forward.
No artificial flavorings or botanicals can be added after the distillation process.
Plymouth gin is characterized by its lighter, citrus-forward style that originated in the port of Plymouth on the English Channel. Today, only one distiller has the right to produce this variety – Plymouth, Coates & Co.
Old Tom gin is the third variety and is most famously used in the Tom Collins cocktail. It usually includes the addition of syrup or sometimes licorice, which is added before distillation and occasionally before release, to add a subtle sweetness.
New Western Dry gin is a modern style of gin that is frequently cropping up on the market. This gin has less dominant flavors of juniper and instead focuses on botanicals and other flavors.
Other uses for gin
While the Negroni is one of the best ways to enjoy your gin, there’s plenty of other drinks to try.
There’s of course the classic G&T which pairs your favorite gin and tonic water together, as well as the Gin Martini, French 75, and a host of other classic and contemporary cocktails.
Which gin is best for Negroni?
Generally, a London Dry Gin is best for a Negroni, and there are loads to choose from. We like Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray the best.
These gins have enough strength and complexity to stand up to the other ingredients in the cocktail and offer a hint of heat, too.
Can you use Hendricks in a Negroni?
Hendricks isn’t a conventional choice for a Negroni. Its perfume-like aroma and distinct floral notes mean that it will add something a little different to your Negroni – and this might be a good or bad thing, it’s up to you to decide.
Some people love Hendricks in a Negroni, whereas others prefer it in a G&T or a gin martini.
What is the smoothest gin?
Bombay Sapphire is generally considered to have a very smooth flavor profile thanks to its combination of ten hand-selected exotic botanicals from around the world. With Bombay, you’ll experience aromatic flavors and a crisp finish.
Gins often get dismissed as being the same, yet they can actually differ significantly, from traditional, Juniper-forward London dry gins, to more contemporary styles that offer more citrus-heavy or botanical notes than traditional juniper.
Which gin you choose can have a big impact on the end result of your cocktail, particularly when it comes to simple, classic cocktails like the Negroni.
You can make your cocktail as understated or as adventurous as you wish, and your gin is the key here. Why not try out different brands and varieties of gin to find out the perfect addition to your Negroni?