Sep 17, 2023 Drinks
This year Negroni Week is celebrating its 11th birthday. After a decade of dedicating a single drink to raising money for charity, this year is focused on the timeless bonds that exist around this iconic drink – the bond between Campari and the Negroni; the bond between Campari and the bartending community; and the bond between Negroni Week and the community.
What bond do you have with the Negroni? Why is it special for you?
When I started working in bars, I started as a bar back and worked my way up to being behind the bar pouring and creating drinks.
The second cocktail I got to make was a Negroni (a Manhattan was my first). My colleague, who was very much an old school bartender, hadn’t made one in a while and couldn’t remember how to make it, but said excitedly “never forget, the recipe is on the back of the bottle!” I had a go at making one and I tried it, from then I was hooked. When you’re 21, and it’s your first time trying something like Campari, it’s an experience you don’t forget.
Tell us about the best Negroni you ever had.
Right before I left to come to NZ, I met a very good friend at a bar similar to Deadshot . We had a few drinks and talked, lots of tears were involved. The Negroni just became this amazing medium over which we both shared this incredible experience. Just getting together and hanging out, chatting, sharing stories, it was a realy lovely last moment before I left.
What is special about the Boulavadier cocktail and your bond with it?
I decided to make a Bouladvadier cocktail as my take on a Negroni because it reminds me of home. I love Negronis, but before I discovered them I’ve always loved Bourbon. My Dad poured me a bourbon as my very first drink, and when you take two of the things you love and put them together, you really can’t go wrong.
Do you remember your best conversation / moment involving a Negroni?
Obviously my story from earlier has stuck with me, it probably always will. The recipe being on the back of the bottle was a foundational moment for me.
The other one would have to be recently, with the big Sbagliato trend, we had two older chaps come in. They’d been drinking rum and cokes all night, and a customer ordered a NegronI Sbagliato. They mentioned that they’d heard of it before but never tried it, so they dove in to try something new and ordered a round. They absolutely hated them and wound up putting lemonade in them to finish it, which was hilarious to me. But what I took from it was that people are trying new things, putting themselves out there and giving it a go. That can’t be a bad thing at all, even if it does have some funny outcomes.
How do you bond with your customers and give them a lasting impression?
I just try to make everyone feel welcome when they step into the bar. If everyone who comes in feels like friends or family, then I’m happy, because that’s what Hospitality is all about for me! Making connections, making people laugh, listening to their problems. That’s why I couldn’t be a chef or hidden away, to me bartending will first and foremost be about your connections with people and making a good drink that allows that to flourish.
How have you seen The Negroni change over your career? Has it grown more popular?
So much more popular – maybe that’s because of the bars I’ve worked in… For me it really took off in the states a bit before I left. The guy who taught me how to make cocktails in 2016 couldn’t remember how to make one, now people are making so many of them they batch them. People go wild with Negronis now, which I love. The first twist I saw was a barrel aged one that was on tap, and now there are more spins on a Negroni than I can count – it’s got so many different vibes.
I’m from a city in the states where the most popular drink is a beer and shot, so the fact that the Negroni was so popular says it all for it’s popularity, even back in 2018.
People always have a favorite bar, drink, bartender they love to tell their friends about. What do you think makes the bond between bartenders and cocktail lovers so strong?
I have regulars who’ve followed me from the café I first worked in to bars and restaurants, and to Lime where I work now. They follow me around. I think customers want familiarity, and just being there for them, making them feel welcome and being friendly. I think these bonds create an atmosphere that makes people feel at home. These connections are how we make regulars and friends that last years. Actually, Hospitality has helped me to make some of my closest friends.
With Cocktail lovers / Liquor lovers you get to know them, and you can curate something really special for them. Making a drink with the latest Gin for those people who love Gins, it excites them and keeps them coming back, and in a place them feel comfortable in and love. Each person comes back for an experience that is similar but still curated for them.
What would you like to see start, stop, change within our industry to help develop strong timeless bonds continuing?
QR codes! When you go to a venue and instead of servers waiting you, they have QR Codes for you to order from your table. These customers are having no hospitality experience. In my experience guests come back for the people they meet, the experience and service. When I’ve seen these types of ordering solutions, all they do is create confusion, if you don’t have data or the wifi is down and the page wont load, servers saying they’re not allowed to talk to the customers etc.
We’re in the hospitality industry and it’s the opposite of hospitality. There’s no interaction of service.
If your phone is out on the table, you’re not truly in the moment and having a good time.
30ml Rosso Vermouth
Stir over ice and strain into rocks glass over ice.
Flame orange zest
Garnish with orange twist