I hope that in landing on this page you know what a Negroni is and adore it as much as I do. If you don’t know what a Negroni is, indulge this quick (unjust) version of a explainer (this longer one may deal more justice) plus some of my picks for where to drink Negroni in Florence at the end
The Negroni is equal parts sweet vermouth, Campari (or bitter of choice) and gin. It was considered created exactly 100 years ago in 1919 thanks to a man named Count Cammillo Luigi Manfredo Maria Negroni who asked his bartender Fosco Scarselli of Cafe Casoni to replace soda water in his Americano with gin- a legend was born!
The history of this drink is fascinating, I’ve read Negroni Cockail by Luca Picchi and he really does a fantastic job of charting not only this iconic drink, but the history of Negroni himself, international influences and trends in the cocktail world and paints the setting imaginably well of Florence at that time. If you can read Italian, I highly suggest the purchase. Classic/revisited recipes from esteemed bartenders around the world included!
In the most (unfair) concentrated way I can hopefully understand, Picchi’s book (in part) explains that Negroni came from a well-to-do family, and was an eccentric character, taking off- for intrinsic reasons rather than from desperation- to explore America, however imagine this in an era where less fortunate Italians were taking off in order to better survive
Back track a bit to find Campari invented in 1860 as a result of what Italians do impeccably well: imagine, create and invent. A bartender named Gaspare Campari was experimenting in the cellar of his bar in Milan with raspberry juice, herbs and neutral alcohol to create Campari bitter.
Fast forwarded to 1898- Negroni travels to America, during a time vermouth-gin cocktails were a bit of the rage- making Campari-like bitters hadn’t quite been mastered yet besides extremely high alcohol % bar bitters used in dashes. So when Negroni eventually returned to Italy and then Florence, he is said to have ordered the Americano (vermouth & campari topped with soda) which was popular then, and the rest is history.
This year marks the centennial of the Negroni and this year’s Negroni week is especially special as a result. My friend Georgette of Girl in Florence wrote a wonderful ode to the Florentine aperitif and including a recipe for a riff using amari, courtesy of yours truly and Julian Biondi, founder of BarOMeter consulting. Even if you aren’t in Florence during Negroni week but still would like to partake in this historic libation, here are my picks for the best bars in Florence for a Negroni (and of course you can sign up for one of my aperitivo tours in the city:)
Manifattura- Not sure if their main bar will be open this summer but they do have an “estivo” outdoor bar at Vele sull’Arno and premise on Italian vintage nostalgia in their drink procurement. facebook page summer location: VELE SULL ‘ARNO: Lungarno Colombo 11.
Rivoire- Classic chocolate and pastry coffee bar/historic cafe where Negroni also got its beginnings. I love getting a Negroni here with a few of the aperitivo snacks at the bar Address: Piazza della Signoria, 5/R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Caffe Gilli- I would get a Negroni here simply because Luca Picchi manages & bartends here and he lights up when a Negroni is ordered and I just think he’s a special bartender/drink historian the city is lucky to have Address: Via Roma, 1r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Fusion Bar- More of a modern-y place, but is bar is run by some serious talent and they take Negoni to new levels with futuristic dry ice tricks to paying homage to Florence’s boozy history with ancient liquors like cinnamon-y Alkermes and Chianti wine Address: Vicolo dell’Oro, 3, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
wherever Julian Biondi is (follow @julian.biondi)
wherever Fabiano Buffolino is (follow @fabianobuffolino)
Locale Firenze- Mega swank, former Medici palace transformed contemporary dining space with stunning bar for the luxurious soul in us all where the work behind the bar is so damn artsy-artisanal I’d be tempted to label as where mixology takes place, an overwhelming selection of national bitters and craft vermouths and eyebrow raising presentations/twists make the negronis here very unordinary Address: Via delle Seggiole, 12/red, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
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Rex Cafe- Funky, vintage artsy bar/dance club (but closed in the summer/check for their summer location along the Arno) Best to refer to their FB page for seasonal space info
Bitter Bar- a bit pricy (understandably/justifiably so), on the speakeasy vibe side, but also more creative riffs on the Negroni. Close to Sant’Ambrogio Address: Via di Mezzo, 28r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Viktoria Lounge Bar- More of a local bar where students/young Florentines frequent and a tragic aperitivo buffet, the barstaff here do indeed make a decent Negroni and participate in annual cocktail weeks in the city and is a great little late night stop for the casual drinker Address: Via Giuseppe Verdi, 28/R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy (near Santa Croce)
Rasputin- Underground secret bar style, vintage cocktails and craft versions of all classics/creative libations where a Negroni is crafted incredibly well. In the Oltrarno. facebook page
Ditta Artigianale (either via de’ Neri or Sprone location) The owner has an obsession with gin and if you do too, Negroni rounds will be very fun website/info
And for history’s sake, Harry’s Bar
And for dive spots- please go to Caffe Fiorentino on Via de’ Macci or any Italian bars/caffes where retirees are most likely to congregate/play cards/yelling about something (like Bar Dario, Caffe Notte, the old school bars with only standing room including the bar inside Mercato Sant’Ambrogio or any ARCI bar like the one in San Niccolo’, etc) that free pour Negroni with salty chips/peanuts, while not curated is more accurate to the Italian experience and soul
For more resources on bars in Florence hit up any of my guides online:
Via Conde Nast Traveler: https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-bars-in-florence
via Eater: https://www.eater.com/maps/best-cocktails-florence
My blog: https://thecuriousappetite.com/2016/11/25/bars-craft-cocktails-florence/
MY APERITIVO TOUR 🙂 https://curiousappetitetravel.com/aperitivo-tour-in-florence
In your Negroni lust,