Holiday Cocktails: Hannibal's Route
The balanced bitter-sweet-boozy Negroni represents exactly what a spirited mixed drink should be and she was born well before the word "cocktail" was even applied to potables.
Like many classic cocktails, there are varying origin tales of the Negroni. My allegiance lies with the story of Corsican cavalier General Pascal Olivier Negroni - progeny of a long line of fighting noblemen - who dedicated its invention to his wife. Whatever the origin, the coveted Negroni tracks are long laid and the cocktail is consumed massively to this day.
Pascal's original formula was perfectly simple: equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth served on ice with an orange wedge. It certainly is good as is, but as with any simple, perfect, beloved thing - man has to tinker. Plays on the 1:1:1 formula began soon after Negroni's origin. The best known classic variations are the bourbon forward Boulevardier and its dryer cousin, the Old Pal. Modern alterations are plenty and usually involve swapping out the base for spirits like rye or mezcal, to name a few. Sometimes the Campari is exchanged for another Amaro, Quina or Gentain. Occasionally the vermouth is specified (Utah original One and Done uses Carpano Antica). It's a game of Mr. Potato Head. I played a hand and though an original Negroni has always been a great holiday sipper, this version - which includes the extra herbaceous and citrus forward Uncle Val's gin as well as dry, nutty, lingering Oloroso sherry - has a little extra holiday charm.
The name Hannibal's Route refers to the great military commander (homage to Pascal) Hannibal Barca's famous route from Spain to Italy. All elements in this glass would've been present on that passage.
In your favorite large old fashioned glass, pour;
- 1 ounce Uncle Val's Gin
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce Oloroso Sherry (I prefer Hidalgo brand)
Stir in glass with ice about 30 turns, introducing a large swath of unexpressed lemon peel mid stir. Raise your glass to Pascal and whatever holiday icons and companions you treasure. Santé.