Classic gins work well here, but as there's no Campari the need to stand up to bold bittersweet citrus has gone. This makes the White Negroni the perfect drink to use those bright, light and fragrant gins that would otherwise have got lost in the classic recipe.
White Vermouth will lend more approachable flavours than Dry Vermouth in a White Negroni. If you have it, use it.
For those looking for alternatives on Suze (a French bitters who’s primary flavour is gentian root and alpine flowers), try Kamm & Sons or La Gentiane Chartreux. If the bitter sweet notes of Suze are just not to your taste, the two alternative bases to try could be Pastis or alternatively, something akin to Sepia – a bitters made with French chicory which has a delicious tension between the earthy and roasted flavours of chicory, myrtle and the ethereal brightness of orange.
A BRIEF, INEBRIATED HISTORY:
In our younger years, we thought the only place for a bottle of Suze to go was right down the kitchen sink, but given its importance in the history of the Negroni Bianco, we’re feeling slightly more forgiving.
The White Negroni was created by bartender Wayne Collins at VinExpo in 2001. Collins was taking part in a cocktail competition for Plymouth Gin. The brand’s Global Ambassador at the time, Nick Blacknell, was in a Negroni kind of mood, which that set the tone for the competition…
Collins – with his brilliantly fresh take on the cocktail – won, and the drink went off on its own adventure, heading to New York with Plymouth Ambassador Simon Ford, who introduced it to Audrey Sanders of the Pegu Club. The drink took off, as you know by now, and is something of a modern day classic.
Collins, incidentally, has twisted the measurements a bit, so the recipe above is something of a riff on the riff. If you’re looking for the original, it looks a little something like this: 1.5oz Plymouth Gin, 3/4oz Suze, 1oz Lillet Blanc (lemon peel garnish). Suze is pretty heavy hitting so our advice is to go a little light on your first attempt on the drink.
Purists, we’re going to have to ask you to simmer down. We know, we know… a Negroni is a Negroni, and anything else is something else.
It might even be a fair argument that anyone could call just about anything they liked a twist on a Negroni by using a Gin + Bitters + Vermouth recipe (and we think that’s fair enough), but there’s a certain formula here. Suze is an apt replacement for Campari (which, rumour has it, has a certain amount of gentian root in it too), whilst something like Lillet Blanc takes the sweet vermouth role quite nicely.
This works so very well, with that same bitter/sweet/dry tandem and a complexity of flavour that latches onto the tongue and sits for hours. It feels like a Negroni, just different so just trust us on this one, you’ll love it.