Ninety percent of the drinks I order at cocktail bars are Negronis. The holy trinity of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth possess a near cosmic, peanut butter and jelly-esque affinity for each other that renders their combination almost error proof. Too much gin? Still pretty good. Super shitty ice? Whatever. Totally inept execution? Nobody cares. The worst Negroni at an okay bar is still better than 90% of Martinis out there. Barring vermouth negligence, a Negroni is basically impossible to mess up.
This does not mean, however, that one can never tire of them. Sure, some weirdo on TLC can eat a PB&J every day for 40 years; but variety is the spice of the True Life Channel, and every so often, you gotta find a new jam. Enter the Cardinale.
A Cardinale differs from a typical Negroni by swapping sweet vermouth for dry, and like many Negroni variations, tweaking the 1:1:1: ratio to 1/12 ounces spirit (in this case still gin), ¾ ounce vermouth (in this case dry), and ¾ ounce bitter (in this case Campari). This build makes the Cardinale drink a bit more like a martini, and as such it is often served up.
Like any straightforward cocktail (or sandwich!), ingredient choice makes a big difference. Different gins can be bold, spicy, soft, or citrus-driven. Brand choices on the bitter or vermouth make even more noticeable differences. Negroni temple Cafe Dante in NY, for example, employs Dorthy Parker gin, Lo-Fi dry vermouth, and Contratto bitter; but Beefeater, Dolin Dry, and Campari are totally fine. To make a Cardinale, you will need:
- 11/2 ounces Gin
- ¾ ounce Dry Vermouth
- ¾ ounce Campari
Add ingredients to mixing glass. Add cracked or cubed ice (all the way up!), and stir (a lot). Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist. Pairs well with a PB&J. Seriously.