While a classic Negroni is a perfect cocktail, it’s also one that inspires mixologists to take risks and create their own version of the classic. A white Negroni, mezcal Negroni, a Negroni with Aperol — all of which give the beverage a life of its own.
But now there is another take on this Italian cocktail that is so deserving of a place in the sun: The Negroni Portugues.
Made with amaro, gin and tawny port, the Negroni Portugues is an elevated riff, blending the complexity of port wine with the tantalizing flavors of spices and herbs found in the Italian liqueur.
“It’s a simple swap of ingredients,” says Evan Hosaka, bar lead at Las Vegas, NV-based Electra Cocktail Club. “The tawny port replaces the sweet vermouth and the amaro replaces the Compari for the bitter aspect of the cocktail.”
The tawny port, says Hosaka, adds weight and viscosity to the beverage when paired with the right type of amaro.
Additionally, says Anita Musi, fine wine and spirits specialist for importing company Evaton, while using amaro and tawny port in a cocktail can be intimidating, the harmony of the combination, when paired with the lighter gin, will surprise almost anyone after just one sip.
“Amaro’s citrus flavors, spices and herbal notes work well with the juniper flavor profile of the gin. [Tawny port] adds fresh notes of red and sour cherry, red plum and fig, adding a bit of sweetness while complementing the bitterness of the Amaro,” explains Musi.
While a Negroni is traditionally an aperitif, the addition of the port wine makes it a bit more versatile. The beverage can be sipped as a pre-cursor to a meal, but can also work as digestif.
“[Imbibers] may look to the Negroni for as a before-dinner drink because of the Campari, or grapefruit-like bitterness. But, with these swaps, it may fall more towards the digestif side due to its utilization of sweeter tawny port and amaro,” says Hosaka.
Another great reason to try this cocktail, as if not for the unique flavor alone, is its ability to elevate some of the most common wine and food pairings. The Negroni Portugues adds depth to a cheese tasting and its complementary flavor profiles also work well with desserts, too, explains Musi.
“A bold cheese plate with salty crackers would contrast perfectly with the cocktail. For a dessert, a cherry tart would complement the red fruit and sweet and sour cherry flavors of the cocktail,” says Musi.
Want to try a Negroni Portugues? Get the recipe here.