For some, the appearance of giant “Negroni Week” posters in the windows of the Sanford Imperial was a welcome sight, prompting them to step inside and order one. (It’s all about having an occasion, ya know?) However, if you’re not familiar with this classic craft cocktail, the idea of “Negroni Week” might have left you scratching your head. For those who felt too shy to ask, I rounded up Mike Smith, general manager of the Imperial, and asked him to give us a little better of an idea of why we should order this classic craft cocktail in Sanford.


How did the Negroni originate?
It’s official origins are unknown, but the popular story has it originated in Italy in the early 20th century.

What components are necessary for a quality negroni and what specifically goes into an Imperial Negroni?
For Negroni week, we stuck to the classic recipe which is equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.  But, there some very creative variations being floated out there lately.

What are the top three keywords to describe the flavor profile of a Negroni?
complex, sweet, bitter

Who do you picture when you think of someone who drinks Negronis?
I mostly picture newcomers to the cocktail scene ordering it because of its delicious and safe appearance.  You can tell they’re novices by their first reaction, which is usually an expression of trying to figure out if they like it or not… then they order another half hour later.

What’s your sales pitch to someone who has never tasted a Negroni before? How do you decide when to recommend one and to whom?
Same as most everything else that is new to them . . . Three sip rule!  Never judge anything new by the first couple of sips, if you did, you would never like most anything!  First sip of anything new is almost always going to pack some sort of shock.  The second sip allows you analyze what you are tasting, but without the initial shock.  The third sip can usually shore up a fair analysis of what it is you are tasting.  I think the Negroni is a great gateway cocktail for a person who is ready to make the jump from a rum and coke to the world of classic cocktail recipes.

classic craft cocktail in Sanford negroni weekIn your opinion, what is the perfect occasion for a Negroni?
It’s a great drink to make at home, especially if you’re making a lot of them.  It’s a great front porch cocktail.  Also, if your bartender is in the weeds, he or she will appreciate the order as it is quite easy to crank them out in a pinch.

Yum! Now you’re perfectly informed for Negroni Week next year, with no need to feel sheepish. But hey, a year is a long time to wait, and I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a little thirsty. Imperial, anyone?