The Negroni is a very classic cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Over the past few years, it has become more popular than every to put variations on the Negroni and I happen to think that this Strawberry Negroni, which is made with Strawberry-Infused Campari, just might be the perfect twist on the classic for summer entertaining.
You will need about 24 hours to prepare the strawberry-infused Campari. If you use extra berries, you can cut down the infusion time slightly, but I generally recommend starting the night before. This is a great use for slightly over-ripe berries that aren’t pretty enough to stand on their own on the dessert table. The berries are sliced and combined with the Campari, which is sweet, but also has a strong bitter orange flavor to it, and left in the refrigerator to meld together. After 24 hours, the berries can be strained out and the Campari is ready to use. The Campari is mellowed by the infusion, so while it still has the bitter finish that you expect from it, it also has a rounded orange flavor and a berry sweetness. It’s delicious just served with ice and soda water, but it makes a fantastic Negroni.
I used Beefeater gin and Noilly Prat sweet vermouth in my cocktail. The vermouth has a lovely red berry note that works really well with the strawberry-infused Campari. You can mix things up with other gins and sweet vermouths. As always, you get the best results from good quality ingredients, so spending a bit more will get you a better finished cocktail. I’ve also made this Negroni variation with Plymouth, Nolets and Fords, all with good results. Garnish the cocktail with a sliced straberry and an orange twist, so you get fresh berry and citrus on the nose even before you take a sip. It smells – and tastes – like summer.
The batch of Campari will be enough for 7-8 cocktails, depending on the ripeness of your strawberries. Remember that riper berries will impart more flavor to the Campari and seem to soak up a bit less of the liqueur. I don’t always use the strawberries that I have leftover from this infusion, but they could be added to ice cream for a sundae with a unique flavor or added to a mix of other fruits for a berry cobbler. You can double the recipe if you are entertaining and want to have more on hand. It will keep well for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
1 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Strawberry-Infused Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
In a mixing glass, combine gin, Campari and sweet verouth. Fill the glass with ice and stir to chill, about 20-30 seconds. Strain over ice (preferably a large ice cube) in a rocks glass. Garnish with a sliced strawberry and an orange twist.
8-oz fresh strawberries
Hull the strawberries and slice. In a medium-sized container, combine berries and Campari. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours to infuse.
Strain out the berries using a very fine sieve or a cheesecloth, then refrigerate the Campari until ready to use.
Makes about 8 oz.