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9 ways to garnish a Negroni cocktail

The Negroni is an iconic Italian cocktail. A perfect balance of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, stirred with ice and garnished with an orange peel twist.

But like many popular drinks, you don’t have to stay true to the original recipe. Many Negroni variations have popped up over the years, swapping spirits and adding extra flavour. But one simple way to mix things up is by changing the garnish.

Here we share a variety of garnishes that can switch up your Negroni, from classic citrus twists to sweet, fruity additions, ensuring each sip is as delightful as the last.

the original negroni garnish

The traditional way to garnish a Negroni is with a thin curled rind of orange peel, otherwise known as an orange twist. Some bartenders rub the peel around the rim of the glass for extra citrus flavour with every sip. Whilst others simply allow the peel to express orange oils into the drink.

 

Fragrant, fresh and a pop of colour, orange peel complements a Negroni in both look and taste. The bright orange twist goes perfectly with the rich, red hues of the vermouth. Whilst the sweet, citrus notes match those found in the Campari, as well as the gin’s refreshing natural botanicals. Use Beefeater London Dry Gin to balance bold juniper and strong citrus notes, including Seville orange peel. 

How to cut orange peel for a Negroni?

To create a perfect orange peel garnish, you’ll first want a fresh orange that’s ripe, firm and bright in colour. Give it a wash under cool water and dry the skin. Then it’s time to get peeling.

 

There are two ways to cut the peel of an orange: with a knife or with a peeler. There’s no right way so try what feels easier.

 

If using a knife, hold the orange in one hand and use the other hand to slowly cut a strip of peel from the top of the fruit to the bottom. Or do the same with a peeler, removing a large, wide strip.

 

The perfect peel should be about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. But don’t worry too much if it’s too short or narrow. You can always trim the peel if you wish. The most important thing is to avoid cutting the fruit too deeply so that you peel off the white pith which not only looks untidy but adds a cutting bitterness.

 

You might be tempted to flame the orange peel by holding it over a lighter to release extra oils. But this can create a smoky flavour that unbalances the taste of the Negroni.

 

Instead, hold it over the glass and gently squeeze to release the essential oils. Then gently twist it and drop it into your cocktail.

what can you use instead of orange peel in a negroni?

Orange peel is a signature Negroni garnish, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different ideas whether it be other fruits, herbs or nothing at all.

 

If you don’t have an orange to hand – or aren’t keen on this particular fruit – then there’s plenty of other garnish options that complement a Negroni. Some variations of a Negroni even call for a different garnish to match the mixed up flavours of the recipe. As long as it complements the aroma and taste of the drink then it works.

 

Here’s some of our favourite ways when an orange just won’t do: 

Cherry

Cherries are usually a second choice when it comes to cocktail garnishes, often found in classic drinks like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Tart, sweet and juicy, this retro addition enhances the fruity flavours of a drink, working perfectly in a Negroni.

 

Most bartenders use Maraschino cherries when garnishing a cocktail. But there are plenty of other types including Morello and Montmorency. Each has a slightly different flavour and level of sweetness.

Lemon peel

Try replacing orange peel with lemon for a fresher serve. It’s cut and twisted in the same way, but results in a completely different tasting experience that balances out the Negroni’s bitter notes with a touch of sour tang.

 

Lemon peel is also the garnish of choice for a White Negroni, a light variation on the classic recipe that uses Lillet Blanc and Suze instead of Campari and sweet vermouth. We also use our lemon flavoured gin for extra zesty freshness.

Lime peel

If lime is more your bag, then make sure to give a lime peel a go next time you stir up a Negroni. Adding more acidic, tart notes, the lime works beautifully with the Campari’s bitter, citrus taste.

Grapefruit peel

Like the bitterness of a Negroni? Then a grapefruit peel might just be your perfect garnish. This extra sharp citrus fruit is renowned for its bitter taste. So if you enjoy the puckering sensation of a fresh grapefruit drink, you’re in for a treat.

A citrus wedge

Citrus fruit doesn’t always have to be peeled to work as a cocktail garnish. Instead cut a thin wedge of orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit and place into your Negroni. Adding the fruit’s flesh will add more fresh juiciness to the drink. You could even give the wedge a squeeze to release its flavour before dropping in.

 

We love an orange wedge with a Blood Orange Negroni to really embrace those sweet citrus notes. Made with our orange flavoured gin, it’s about as orangey as you can get a Negroni to be.

Herbs

Part of what makes a Negroni so complex and characterful is the gin’s botanicals that bring tons of different flavours including liquorice, coriander seed and angelica root. So why not elevate them? A sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme adds an aromatic twist, giving the Negroni a unique herbal note.

Cinnamon stick

One of our favourite ways to mix up a Negroni is by making it hot. The ultimate winter cocktail to keep cosy in the cold. Make up a Hot Negroni with chamomile tea and a cinnamon stick to garnish for a subtle hint of seasonal spice.

Ice

Not a fan of garnishes? No problem. Feel free to stick to plain old ice cubes as your chosen Negroni garnish and let the flavours of the gin, sweet vermouth and Campari do the talking.

 

There’s plenty more to learn about this iconic drink including the Negroni’s history and how it came to be such a worldwide phenomenon. Discover more about other classic gin cocktails including the best gin aperitifs or Martini variations.  

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