Negroni Cocktails: Past, Present & Future

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Campari. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Your Instagram feed might be turning from #millennialpink to a cheery garnet red next week as we embark on the FIFTH year of Negroni Week!

If you’re not familiar with this wonderful time of year, or have only heard of it in passing, let me loop you guys in. From June 5 through 11 this year, bars, restaurants and vendors from around the world celebrate the Negroni cocktail – an iconic mix of Campari, gin, and sweet red vermouth – to raise money and awareness for great causes. What started as just 100 bars in the US, has now grown into an International event and this year will be bigger than ever.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comWhile you’ll see me out to help the cause next week at a few of my favorite bars (remember to follow us along on Instagram as we’ve planned a few surprises!!) there are other ways you can help a charity out. A portion of proceeds from the sales of nationally-available items such as a Campari-branded red bicycle from PUBLIC, a Negroni-red Baggu tote, and fire red-tinted sunglasses from Sunski, among other items, will be donated to charity. National partner Lyft will also offer coupon codes to new users to help riders safely get around during Negroni Week.

Campari, the star of the cocktail itself, is committed to supporting the trade community’s fundraising efforts as well. This year, Campari is teaming up with both the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), as well as SHARE – a nationwide community that offers support to women diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancers – via SHARE’s partnership with Speed Rack, the all-female speed bartending competition benefitting breast cancer research, education and prevention. Multi-city events will be held with both the USBG and SHARE/Speed Rack to raise money for each charitable cause.

I am a staunch believer in volunteer and charity work and grew up in a community that placed a strong emphasis on these values. That’s why I’m participating once again to help spread the word. While going for a drink out may seem almost like a lay up to support a charity, the point is, it supports a charity. Everyone, and every bit (or drink), counts.

Because Negroni Week is also a celebration of the cocktail, I’ve teamed up with Campari to create 3 of my own variations on the cocktail to represent its Past, Present and Future (and have named them such).

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comNegroni:Past (double vanilla Negroni float)

Representing the past, the Negroni: Past Cocktail harkens back to old timey soda fountain shops where ice cream floats were an indulgent treat for everyone. Here we’ve made this an “adult’s only” cocktail with double the vanilla. Vanilla infused gin, Campari, vanilla ice cream and sweet vermouth “sauce” is a refreshing, and super indulgent, treat for the summer. Optionally, if you can get your hands on some acid phosphate you can give your float extra tang just like the OG soda jerks did.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.com1-1/2 ounces gin, such as Bulldog London Dry Gin, infused with vanilla (recipe follows)
1 ounce Campari
2-3 scoops vanilla ice cream
8 ounces sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano 1757
optional: 1/2 tsp acid phosphate

  1. Start by reducing the sweet vermouth. To do this, heat sweet vermouth in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it reduces to about 2 ounces. Set aside.
  2. In a pint glass, or soda fountain glass, add 2-3 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Then, in a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, add in vanilla infused gin and Campari (and acid phosphate if using). Stir to chill about 20 seconds. Strain mixture over the ice cream.
  3. Garnish your adult float with the sweet vermouth “sauce”.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comVanilla Infused Gin

8 ounces gin, such as Bulldog London Dry Gin
3 to 4 vanilla beans

  1. Chop vanilla beans into 1″ pieces. Add vanilla pieces and gin into an airtight container and seal. Leave in a cool, dark place for 3 to 4 days.
  2. Strain the mixture into a new container when desired taste has been reached.
  3. Vanilla infused gin will keep at optimal taste up to 6 months.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comNegroni:Present

Just because the original Negroni cocktail uses gin, does not mean that today’s has to. One of the biggest trends of the current cocktail era is to take a classic drink and swap out the main spirit. Mezcal has exploded onto the bar scene and you can find it popping up in most bar’s menus. And with good reason, it’s delicious. For this cocktail, we swap out the gin with mezcal, keep our friends Campari and sweet vermouth, and add a touch of green bell pepper syrup to highlight the vegetal nuances of the mezcal.

1 ounce mezcal
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano 1757
1 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce green bell pepper syrup (recipe follows)
large strip of orange zest for garnish

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add in mezcal, sweet vermouth, Campari and bell pepper syrup. Stir for 20 seconds to chill and then strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comGreen Bell Pepper Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 green bell pepper, chopped

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add to the pan the sugar and water. Stir to dissolve and add in green bell pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and cover.
  2. Let sit one hour, remove bell peppers, and let syrup finish cooling to room temperature.
  3. Store syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comNegroni:Future

When you think of the future of cocktails, do you picture some mad scientists conducting experiments in a lab? I do. With the future in mind, I’m highlighting the sharp bitterness of the Negroni with gentian smoke for a take on the smoked cocktail. This cocktail requires a blow torch, so you know it’s fun.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.com1 tablespoon dried gentian root
1 ounce gin, such as Bulldog London Dry Gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano 1757
3/4 ounce Campari
dehydrated orange slice for garnish

  1. Start by moving to a well ventilated room. Place gentian root in a shallow, heat proof dish (I also like mini disposable pie plates!). Get a kitchen torch or long fireplace lighter ready.
  2. Next, fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice. Pour in gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Stir to chill 20 seconds.
  3. Immediately begin smoking the gentian root by holding a flame to it until starts to smoke. As soon as it begins to smoke, place a glass upside down over the smoke to “catch” the smoke. When the glass is filled, slide a postcard or piece of cardstock over the hole to keep the smoke in.
  4. Turn the glass right side up, keeping the hole covered. When ready to serve, remove the card and strain the mixed cocktail into the smoke. Garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.com

For more information on Negroni Week, and for a list of bars participating, visit negroniweek.com and follow @CampariUS and @Imbibe on Facebook, @CampariUSA and @Imbibe on Instagram, @Campari and @Imbibe on Twitter, and engaging with the #NegroniWeek hashtag.

Stir and Strain X LAWine Fest

Stir and Strain at the LAWine Fest 2016 // stirandstrain.comThis weekend we’re sending our wine-man-on-the-town Robin Watts to check out the 11th annual LAWine Fest here in Los Angeles to get the lowdown on what’s haute in the wine world. Robin will be posting on our Instagram with his must pours and give you guys a little behind the scenes action. If you’re not in Los Angeles this will be a great way to check out what’s up and coming in the wine world, and if you ARE in Los Angeles: JOIN US!! LAWine fest has a special code for Stir and Strain readers. Using the code FEST2016 on lawinefest.com, tickets can be purchases for the special rate of $45.00, instead of the $90.00 door price. Guys, that’s 50% off!

Here’s a little more info on the event:

  • L.A.’s largest and longest-running consumer wine tasting event, LAWineFest aims to make the world of wine fun and accessible for Angelenos. Founded in 2005 by renowned wine personality Dr. Joel M. Fisher, LAWineFest became a family business when daughter Sara Fisher Chapin began running the company in 2012. LAWineFest proudly supports local organizations while serving as the Southland’s signature celebration of wine.
  • Participants you will also have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with a wide variety of reasonably-priced artisan boutiques, gourmet foods, wine-related accessories and local lifestyle ‘must have’ products.
  • Wineries will be doing online sales and wine-club sign-ups, and non- wine exhibitors will be selling their wares directly at the event.
  • Offers a rare opportunity for true wine lovers to taste select small-batch pours from hard-to-find boutique wineries at a small, additional fee. This private area will include 25 winery gems and tickets for this will be limited to 400 people per day to provide a more personal experience for this exclusive tasting.
  • Not only does it balance fun, exploration and education, but with a portion of the event’s proceeds, LAWineFest proudly supports The Sunshine Kids for pediatric cancer. You can find more information about the history at LAWineFest

Stir and Strain at the LAWine Fest 2016 // stirandstrain.comLocation: Sunset Bronson Studios, 5901 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028. The cross streets are Sunset Blvd and N. Bronson Avenue.
Dates and times: Saturday June 25th from 2pm-7pm and Sunday June 26th from 2pm-6pm.
Cost of Admission and Ticketing: Tickets are $90 per day (single, general admission), $120 per day (single, universal admission and includes boutique wine tasting), and $15 (designated drivers—no drinking).
What is included with ticket: General Admission covers tastings, commemorative glass, event program, main stage shows, bottled water and vendor samples.
Website | Ticketing site

 

W.S.W.A. x Stir and Strain

Cocktails at the WSWA Show with Stir and Strain // stirandstrain.com
Every calendar year we see a ton of lists predicting what to expect in spirit and cocktail trends over the following twelve months. Some are right on, some are kind of meh… but this year I’m going straight to the horse’s mouth to get a SUPER SNEAK PEEK of what is ACTUALLY HEADING TO MARKET.

That’s right, Stir and Strain is packing its bags and heading to Vegas to visit the WSWA (Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention) from April 18 through the 21st for their 73rd annual convention and exposition.

GUYS. There’s going to be over FOUR HUNDRED exhibitors covering 210,000 square feet of space in the Caesars Palace Conference Center. (Who can send me a backup liver??) But seriously, I will be on the ground getting as much inside information as I can on what you can expect in the coming months and years. ARGH! I’m so excited!

trends panel WSWA // stirandstrain.com
This event is only for those in the trade– typically, the general public doesn’t get let in. Except for you guys, who can check out what’s happening LIVE (thank you Periscope and Snapchat) and can ask questions in real time. Like when will Channing Tatum’s new Born & Bred Vodka be available, or what flavors Lisa Vanderpump’s new sangria line will come in. (And when’s she going to admit she was wrong and apologize to Lisa Rinna?)

If you’re picking up a theme here, yeah, it’s true, there’s going to be some celebrities (George Clooney launched his Casamigos Tequila here, as did Dan Aykroyd and his Crystal Head Vodka), but no, I will not ask ANYONE to sign my bottles. This year, let’s see… Aron Ralston, fearless adventurer and subject of the hit film “127 Hours” (where James Franco had to amputate his own arm). Tito Beveridge, founder of Tito’s Handmade Vodka will receive the Sidney Frank Award (given annually to a person who has made exceptional industry contributions in addition to noteworthy philanthropy and community service). And Christie Brinkley will be cutting the ribbon to start the whole thing off.

A few of the key players in the industry we’ll be tasting with in their suites include Temperance Distilling Company, MHW, Ltd, Heaven Hill Brands, Anchor Distilling Company, Imperial Brands, Kindred Spirits, William Grant & Sons and many more. Some of these names might sound unfamiliar, but it’s more than likely that they’re the makers behind your favorite brands.

You’ll also find me ringside for a few cocktail competitions with the best in the U.S.:

  • Tuesday April 19: 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wine & Spirits Tasting Competition
    Sponsored by The Tasting Panel magazine, this competition features a panel of highly esteemed wine and spirits experts judging nearly 1,000 wines and spirits exhibiting at the convention and awarding medals in dozens of categories.
  • Wednesday April 20
    • 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Call for Cocktails Mixology Competition
    • 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. Wholesaler Iron Mixologist Competition
  • Thursday April 21: 12:45 – 2:15 p.m. Brand Battle
    The Brand Battle provides a unique opportunity for brands to pitch themselves, Shark Tank-style, in front of a panel of industry influencers and wholesaler decision makers.

We’ll also be attending a number of professional seminars featuring inside tips from bar and nightclub owners regarding connecting with customers or reading global trends, and even just practical advice like how to get lipstick off your vintage Nick & Nora glasses (well, that might not be covered but I’m betting there will be someone there who can answer that question).

Cachaca and Latin American Spirits at the WSWA // stirandstrain.com
Anyway, I hope you guys are as excited as I am to get the inside track on the industry’s view of the trends… Rum has been huge this year and is still predicted to keep rising… And the 2015 show premiered a number of new Latin American spirits (new to the US market, anyway) that later showed up in bars and stores across the US.

One of the big trends from last year’s convention was barrel-aged gins, so, to celebrate and get ready for this year’s fun, I’m sharing the winning cocktail from last year’s WSWA Call for Cocktails competition that featured BlueCoat Barrel Finish gin:

Barrel Hidden in the Tropics
(2015 WSWA winner by Chris Chamberlain, Portfolio Manager and Mixologist for Philadelphia Distilling)

Barrel in the Tropics, winning cocktail from 2015 WSWA convention // stirandstrain.com

1.5 oz Bluecoat Barrel Finish gin
0.25 oz Montenegro Amaro
0.75 oz Honey Syrup
0.25 oz Lemon juice
1.25 oz Smoked Pineapple juice
Bar spoon of Greek Yogurt

Okay, guys, thanks for reading through! Again, the WSWA convention is THE launch pad for the cocktail products you’ll see everywhere in the coming year. Join us LIVE from Vegas April 18-21 and make sure to ping me with questions and what you want to see!

For more information on the WSWA, please check out their website at wswaconvention.org and on Facebook and Twitter!

**All photos courtesy of the WSWA convention.

On the Town: Spring Previews in Los Angeles

This month I’ve been trying all the cocktails and eating all the foods so you only have to try the best.

If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles this year and want a few recommendations as to where to drink (or eat), leave us a comment below or send an email (or social media, or WHATEVER way works for you).

Here’s our highlights from March.

THE SPARE ROOM

TERRINE

PALM DESERT FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL PREVIEW

And here’s a few behind the scenes snaps!