The Mezcal Negroni


Diogo Mouteira

In search of my drink of choice, and after many failed attempts, I came across the classic Negroni, and that has been it. Everywhere I go that involves drinking, you’ll always find one in my hand.

For me it’s the perfect “man” drink. Stronger than a classic martini, yet it sounds so much more innocent when you order it. In my head, for some reason, martinis are associated with alcoholism and domestic abuse, thus I shy away from ordering them.

The Old Fashion also used to be a solid choice when it came to what is a manly drink, right up until it got appropriated in gentrified neighborhoods by lesbians who dress like they’re on the TV show Peaky Blinders.

Not the Negroni. 

There’s absolutely no stigma around it.

It’s pure class. 

Ordering a Negroni, if done at the right time and place, can be the perfect bro-moment. Most proud bartenders will smile at a Negroni order. That’s when they have the chance to (if you’re lucky) make use of those huge glasses that have been taking so much room in their freezer and show off their perfectly clear spheres of ice. 

The drink’s very bitter, but bitter doesn’t necessarily mean manly. I know of many guys that are far manlier than me who can’t stand the taste of bitter. Years ago, I was in a bar in London with my good friend and MMA fighter George Tokkos after one of his fights, and he showed up drinking a strawberry daiquiri. 

With the umbrella and everything!

 Great conversation starter, I’ll give him that. If a fur laden MMA fighter can drink an umbrella cocktail, so can you. But a Negroni will put hair on your chest. Tokkos doesn’t need any more.

My obsession with the OG Negroni has been noticed on Instagram, and every now and then someone will tag me if they’re having one or suggest a new twist on it.

The other day I was told to swap the gin for mezcal, and I was blown away by the idea. I had been thinking of ways to make this drink even more manly and this one sounded simple and very effective.

After posting a few different recipes I was quickly reminded by my friend Marcos, head-bartender at the Grand Hotel in Oslo, that he had already shown me a bunch of different twists on this drink, a long time ago. I asked him to forgive me for not having any recollection of that – AT ALL – as I was living life much faster at that time, and mezcal wasn’t the strongest Mexican product me and my little crew of chefs were consuming regularly.

There are some rules to this drink:

  •  All you need is equal parts mezcal, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Notice how I didn’t mention any brands. Use what you can find. That’s what men do.
  • Try having the huge slab of ice in the middle. That will really make a difference. Don’t go with ice cubes. 
  • Use a very small amount of drink compared to the ice. Don’t go more than 3 oz total. 
  • Serve it in a thick “on the rocks” glass, preferably straight out of the freezer. 
  • Grapefruit zest to garnish, as opposed to the orange on the OG. Do the little twist to it before you drop it in, the oils will do a lot for this drink.

The first sip might feel a bit too smoky even for a hairy chested man, but it will go away very fast. If there’s still too much smoke in it for you after the first serve, go 50/50 mezcal/tequila on the next one.

If it doesn’t work for you at all, you can always rely on the Boulevardier, but we’ll cover that one another time.