It’s for A Good Cause
By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer
Some of us don’t need an excuse to drink cocktails, but if I could be so bold, here’s a good one. It’s called Negroni Week and this year it lands between June 6 and 12. It’s a benign week for most people, but anybody in the “industry” — of course, I mean the food and beverage industry — knows all about this lovely little week of fun and friendly competition.
Negroni Week was launched in 2013 as a celebration to raise money for charitable causes around the world. Venues select a local charity and then pledge to donate $1 from the sale of each Negroni.
Let’s address the obvious: the Negroni cocktail. It is made from equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari, then garnished with an orange peel for aromatics. The classic aperitivo, or before-dinner drink, is said to prepare the stomach for the meal to follow. It is one of the few cocktails that dates back to the early 20th century. Named after Count Camillo Negroni, who asked his bartender to strengthen his usual drink by replacing soda water with gin, the cocktail has remained unchanged throughout the years. But bartenders are starting to add their own twists and turns to the spirited beverage.
The Negroni Movement
What started as a handful of participants has sparked a global Negroni movement. Participation ranges across thousands of bars and restaurants in over 28 countries, and features local competitions among bartenders and drinkers. There are prizes for the bartenders who put their own spin on the beverage, and the financial haul is counted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.The bar that sells the most Negron-inspired cocktails will receive an extra $10,000 dollars from Campari to donate to their charity. Imbibe magazine also throws down some serious cash to the winner.
Some of our favorite bars and restaurants in the Harbor Area are also getting on board. J. Trani’s in San Pedro will be featuring a special Negroni aged with vanilla bean, and will be donating to the Boys & Girls Club of the Los Angeles Harbor.
Michael’s Restaurant Group in Long Beach will be featuring two Negroni cocktails, one with an Aperol foam garnish. The bartenders at James Republic, Anthony Jackson and Todd Deckinger, came up with a trio of Negroni-inspired cocktails: Il Padrino, Il Figlio, and Il Sprito Santo, featuring rum, tequila and gin, respectively. Nathan McCoullough of Padre in Long Beach will be doing his classic take on a Negroni, adding a few subtle changes like cherry wood smoke and a bit of coffee concentrate.
I see a Negroni bar crawl in my future, and I use the word “crawl” here, loosely. The goal is to leave each bar in an upright position.