Everything Wrong With Stanley Tucci’s Negroni Recipe

Not quite how to make a Negroni correctly

In case you haven’t heard, the Negroni has more or less become the official cocktail of stylish gentlemen around the world. Thanks to the continuous stream of Negroni photos, chatter, and idolization on Instagram from friends of mine like Matt Hranek of WM Brown and the inimitable founder of The Rake and Revolution magazines, Wei Koh, the simple Italian-born cocktail has gained a stature that has the venerable martini shaking in its Nick and Nora glass.

Among those who worship at the alter of Negroni, is none other than the actor, writer, producer, and film director, Stanley Tucci, who posted an IGTV video recently featuring his own Negroni recipe. That video went, let’s call it, viral-ish.

 

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As a former Rake coverboy–and, as logically follows, man of exceptional talent, style, and taste–Mr. Tucci’s Negroni-making lesson certainly piqued my interest. Like many, I was immediately mesmerized by his smooth delivery (and notable quarantine physique), yet my initial excitement quickly began to change to a different sort of feeling–horror.

As it turns out, Stanley Tucci’s Negroni recipe is fatally flawed and riddled with abominations. These are things that would be evident to even the most passive student of the Negroni. Let’s take a look his recipe and what went wrong.

Stanley Tucci’s Negroni Recipe

2 oz. Plymouth Gin
1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 oz. Campari

Combine the gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a coupe. Squeeze a bit of juice from an orange slice into the drink. Garnish with the orange slice.

Where to begin? How about here…

1. Serving a Negroni “up”.

Traditionally, Negronis are served with ice. You can use either a use a single large ice cube (or sphere) or fill your glass mostly with ice. This not only keeps your drink chilled, but gives some shape and roundness to the bitterness of the Campari and the botanicals of the gin. Now, Mr. Tucci, did shake the ingredients, which would provide a bit of that desired dilution.

2. You don’t shake a Negroni.

When it comes to shaking or stirring a cocktail, the prevailing wisdom states that you stir cocktails with spirits and you shake cocktails with citrus. As a spirit-only cocktail, a Negroni should be stirred. It’s not even necessary to have a mixing glass–build the drink in your tumbler.

3. Wrong proportions.

A Negroni is an equal-parts cocktail. It’s frankly one the aspects of the drink that makes it so magical–that perfect, equal interplay of botanicals, bitter, and sweetness. Tucci suggests proportions of 2-1-1, which favors the gin. I’ve seen recipes that slightly favor the gin–proportions can be a matter of personal taste, after all (I’m looking at you, Martini)–but for me, 2-1-1 is a bridge too far. Mr. Tucci uses Plymouth gin, however, which is pretty savory and void of the some sharpness found in gins like Monkey 47. I find Beefeater to be the perfect balance for a traditional Negroni.

4. If you don’t like gin, you can use vodka.

…and then you can completely miss one of the most important elements of the Negroni–the botanicals. If you use vodka, you’re not drinking a Negroni anymore!

5. Don’t use Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth.

There’s nothing wrong with Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth. In fact, some of the most delicious Negronis I’ve ever tasted in Italy have been made with Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth. Is it cheap? Sure is. Where a lot of people go wrong is they will buy a bottle, use it once, and then keep it in a cabinet, which leads to it turning and tasting terrible two to three weeks later. Vermouth is a fortified wine and needs to be refrigerated after opening to keep.

6. Serve in a coupe.

If I was ever served a Negroni in a coupe, I would send it back and ask for it to be dumped into a tumbler.

7. Add some juice from the orange wedge garnish.

Juice? No. Expressing some of the oils from the peel over the drink? Yes.

Despite these seven mistakes, Mr. Tucci did offer a couple pieces of good advice.

1. Use a good sweet vermouth.

It’s amazing how much a “good” sweet vermouth can change the profile of your Negroni. Carpano Antica, as Mr. Tucci suggests, is one of the most delicious sweet vermouths out there. It’s got a round quality to the taste, there’s a bit of vanilla, lots of body. It’s decadent and makes a decadent Negroni. I would also suggest Punt E Mes or Cocchi Torino.

2. Garnish with an orange slice.

The orange is the final detail–the pocket square or cologne, if you will–of the Negroni. It ties everything together. Do not forgo the garnish. You can also use an orange peel.

Now, there’s a bit of understated humor (and mild sarcasm) in parts of Stanley Tucci’s Negroni masterclass. He’s a true gentleman. And this post–if you haven’t already guessed–has been written in that same spirit. Thank you, Mr. Tucci, for helping to elevate the profile of “Menswear’s Favorite Cocktail”. Cheers!

Thoughts? Chime in below in the comments.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

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Chime In

  • TJ

    An interesting take on the Negroni. I kind of want to try it just to see if maybe he’s onto something.

    I’m a big fan of the Americano but with dry vermouth. Sometimes I’ll just do Campari and soda.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Same. I happen to have some Plymouth at the moment. It’s on the menu tonight!

      • TJ

        Nice. Share the results please!

        • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

          Strangely, I tasted a LOT of Campari. And it lacked the viscosity and balance, of course, of a traditional Negroni.

  • Timothy Black

    I’d just also add that Plymouth is a different variety of gin entirely, like Old Tom or Genever even…so not the same as London Dry which is what a Negroni usually calls for. But I mean use what you got, I’m sure it’s still fine (in a 1:1:1)

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Yes, and they’re all just a touch different!

  • Robert Giaimo

    I’m a fan of Negronis, been drinking them for about 40 years, and of Mr. Tucci, ever since his film The Big Night. I also prefer my Nergronis in a tumbler with a big ice cube, as far as up–to each his own (tutti gusti son gusti). I remember Anthony Bourdain saying that if you get served a Negroni with a lemon slice walk out of the bar. Now that’s a fatal flaw and totally unacceptable.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Haha. Cheers, Robert. Appreciate you chiming in.

    • Robert Giaimo

      When I want something a bit less potent than a Negroni, I go for a Torino Milano — 2/3 Sweet vermouth, 1/3 Campari, traditionally served with a twist of orange and lemon peel.

  • OldManJoe

    Going to give it a try this afternoon. Only I’m going to use Tanqueray instead of your Beefeater recommendation. Fresh orange slice from my back yard tree.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Nice! Enjoy and good to see you!

  • Rory Carlton

    You’re right on all points. But it’s Stanley Tucci. So he wins. Sorry. The world is unfair.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Can’t argue with that!

      • susan_g

        I agree with what you wrote and also with what Rory wrote.

  • Tony_Ieradi

    Not a huge fan myself of the Negroni , but I do make them for friends at our parties. This is not a recipe I would use. And not shaken for sure! I prefer Beefeaters as well for this recipe, although I have made it with Bombay (not sapphire.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Bombay is also nice. Thanks for chiming in, Tony.

  • Sergio Ines

    Happy to see I wasn’t the only one who went from elation to trepidation as Mr Tucci butchered his wifes Negroni! I would however recommend an orange twist over an orange slice. A twist of orange over the surface of the drink coats the top in those citrusy oils, this way the drink hits your nose before your tastebuds and really elevates the experience! My ‘secret weapon’ is rubbing that same orange rind around the rim of the glass before serving, this way you get an orange punch with every sip!

  • Piotr Kujawiak

    I’ve been following HSS for a while now. I must say I really like the content you guys provide!

    To be honest, I think that everyone should drink the way he likes. But let’s name that cocktail a twist or variation instead of classic cocktail.

    You pointed out all the mistakes, but I’d like to add a little to the technique.
    There is more to shaken or stirred cocktails. When you shake your negroni you completely change the texture (while shaking, the ice in the shaker aerates your cocktail, so it becomes “cloudy”) and the temperature, which is key to flavour of the cocktail. Shaking the drink will let the cocktail chill below 0 degrees (Celsius), while stirring it for the same amount of time will keep it above 0 degrees (Celsius). Lower temperature will hide most of the aromas, your cocktail won’t be too fragrant. Also the bitter-sweet ratio will be changed – in lower temperatures we don’t feel as much sweetness, so the bitterness will be more perceptible.

    If you’d like to discuss about cocktails, just give me a shout!

    Sincerely,
    Piotr

    • Steven Elliott

      That was really well-spoken and informative. Thanks so much Piotr. Please feel free to reach out whenever.

  • AmericanLiberal

    I started using gin (Beefie’s) in a 2-1-1 ratio last year to cut the sweetness, and felt validated by Tucci’s video.