The story behind the Negroni

Negroni cocktail

Anthony Bourdain's drink of choice. What James Bond pours himself after punching out a goon in Thunderball. The thing you order on a night when you will eventually text your ex. We're discussing, of course, the Negroni, a classic gin cocktail with a hell of an origin story.

The Negroni takes its name from a real-life person, and not just any old person. Count Camillo Negroni was a freewheeling nobleman who, during a fateful visit to Florence's Caffe Rivoire around 1919, decided the trendy Americano -- Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda -- just wasn't enough. He asked the bartender to ditch the soda for gin, prompting a new boozy sensation. But it gets better: on top of being a barfly count, Negroni also spent some time in America gambling and working as a rodeo cowboy, which completely trumps your story about grandpa's stint with the Washington Generals.

Guy posing with Count Negroni cutout
Flickr/Hanna Lee

(This is what Count Negroni looked like. Not a ton of people can pull off a top hat.)

Perhaps foolishly, people have tried to one-up Camillo over the years with variations like the Citroni Negroni, which adds limoncello and triple sec, or Eeyore's Requiem, a twist that sneaks in Cynar and Fernet Branca. But a true watershed moment came in 2011, when Campari commissioned a group to create the world's largest Negroni. At 30 ruby-tinged gallons, their giant chalice served 1,000 individual drinks, a tally that would make Negroni himself (and that boozehound George Washington) extremely proud, right before going off to gamble and taunt bulls.

Finally, on top of having a cool backstory, the Negroni is incredibly easy to make. We would know, 'cause we put together this whole video tutorial for your mixing pleasure. Cheers:

Kristin Hunt is a food/drink staff writer for Thrillist. She is not a count, a rodeo cowboy, or even remotely Italian, but she does like Negronis. Follow her at @kristin_hunt.