When I'm not drinking champagne or the like, you can often find me imbibing my my top two backup libations: gin or Campari. When I first discovered the slightly bitter liqueur several years ago, I'd often enjoy it straight--on the rocks--or mixed with a splash of ginger ale. (And that was back when I was still cool enough to go to nightclubs on a regular basis, for which it was the perfect drink because nobody wanted a share of it.) It wasn't long before I'd discovered the classic Campari cocktail: the negroni.
Since then, it's always been a reliable 'backup' drink if my preferred champagne is unavailable. But it wasn't until this year that I'd learned that its base ingredient can easily be switched for another while still keeping within the bounds of integrity. My first variation of the cocktail was with prosecco in place of the gin. The result was a slightly lighter, more effervescent version, with the Campari still holding court as the main flavor profile. Also, I had read about a recent trend amongst sherry-loving mixologists of replacing the negroni's gin with manzanilla sherry.
I certainly love me a nip of dry sherry anytime, but finding establishments here in the city that serve it certainly isn't the easiest of feats. However, I've been experimenting with whiskeys--still haven't decided if I prefer scotch, bourbon, or some of the others--and on a recent night out (with fellow thirty-somethings) I decided to don my own mixologist's hat and ordered a whiskey negroni at the bar. The result was a wonderfully dark and smoky version of the classic negroni, which was a very useful balance for the so-often-dominant bitterness of Campari.