Mixology Monday: Negronis

So, I scored some Campari to make Jungle Birds for the Tiki Tuesdays, but the obvious thing to do with campari is- aside from campari spritzers is to make Negronis. Early on in the pandemic, Stanley Tucci's tutorial on making a negroni circulated pretty widely- so I was eager to give it a go. I whipped out some gin and some sweet vermouth and making it was the easy part:

1 oz gin

1 oz sweet vermouth

1 oz campari

Okay, so the original is actually pretty decent. It seems to be kind of like a distant cousin to the regular classic gin martini-- but the campari brings the bitterness of citrus peel and grapefruit to the party. If you like grapefruit, you'll love these- it brings the bitterness up- but the gin and the sweet vermouth tamp it down to tolerable levels. I could drink these. One of these. Probably wouldn't pound these bad-boys like James Bond at an upscale casino in Monte Carlo. But they're very drinkable. 

But then... I found a variant worth exploring: the mezcal negroni.

1 oz mezcal

1 oz sweet vermouth

1 oz campari

I said goodbye to the very excellent bottle of Mezcal Union I purchased all the way down in Waco, Texas with this drink. (Pictured above.) The mezcal is a game changer here. I feel like the gin and the campari aromatic heavyweights and they sort of fight to a draw. The gin of it all gets pulled back by the citrus of the campari and likewise, the bitterness of the campari is pulled back by the gin. 

However, swapping out gin for mezcal...  little bit of a game changer here. The smokiness of the mezcal bursts through and fight back the citrus bitterness of the campari, so you get a smoke, citrusy, drink with a decent amount of grapefruit/citrus peel bitterness going on and it's just about perfect.  

Overall, if you're feeling adventurous and grab some campari for some yummy drinks, you'll need to use it somehow-- negronis are not a bad way to go. Now, however, my more vexing concern is finding Mezcal up here in Iowa that's as good as the Mezcal I scored down in Texas. As with Iowa's lamentable selection of rum (decent but not mind blowingly good, imo-- for instance, I've yet to see Rhum Agricole anywhere in Iowa.) I haven't been super impressed with the selection of Mezcal. I've seen one bottle on the regular, con gusano (so it's got the worm on board) and that's about it. To be fair to the local establishments, I haven't really been on a serious hunt for Mezcal either, so it could have gotten better of late.

(Liquor store find worth mentioning that nearly happened: a local grocery store had Jeppson's Malort. I've heard stories about Malort- but I also feel like I want to have a shot before I buy a bottle and in the interest of authenticity, I feel like it should be somewhere in Chicago. So Malort adventures may wait until after the pandemic.)

My verdict: Negronis = good. Mezcal negronis = better.

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