It’s alcohol events season again… and what better way to (momentarily) come out of my writing hiatus than by sharing a classic cocktail (or five, with a twist) with like-minded GV people?
I mean if the title wasn’t a giveaway already… The night – and booze – in question was clearly a lot of fun. I must credit Melissa Ferrer, Director of Communications of Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, for the term Passenger Princess and the yummy Negronis.
Yes, Negronis. Plural. With an “s”. Let me backtrack.
First off, a Negroni is a classic cocktail that can trace its history to the early 1900s. Legend has it that a member of the Negroni family asked the bartender of Caffè Casoni (Florence) to tweak an Americano cocktail by using gin instead of soda water, hereby making it stronger.
Clearly the Negronis like their booze.
Anyway, to distinguish the Americano with a Negroni twist from a normal Americano, the bartender garnished it with an orange peel (an Americano was garnished with a lemon). This gave rise to the current classic IBA standard: 3 parts gin, 3 parts sweet vermouth, 3 parts Campari, garnished with an orange peel… Stirred, not shaken in a glass with ice. Without a doubt, it’s one of the easiest cocktails to make.
Now here’s the thing: Negronis are an acquired taste, with its distinguishing flavor being something I can only describe as “bitter as my soul.” So, I had to ask myself, why a Negroni Class in Marco Polo Ortigas?
The first obvious answer is that Negroni Week is internationally celebrated from the 18th to the 24th of September. The second but more intimate answer was a tale that came from Resident Manager Olivier Foucke. He kicked off the Negroni class with a personal story. As he put it, “Food and beverage make memories.” He recounted his first Negroni, which he had with his wife during Ramadan in Abu Dhabi back in September 2002. The experience, along with the cocktail, was a truly memorable one for him, and he truly made me feel that he wanted to share that same joy with us.
Olivier tasked Vu’s Sky Bar and Lounge’s talented bartender Francis Domingo and his team to come up with different iterations of the cocktail to have a Negroni for everyone, no matter their preference… It’s a task that I felt lives up to the same spirit of tweaking an Americano so many moons ago.
These are the yummy cocktails they created:
The Classic Negroni
Ok so it’s a classic… One might ask, what’s so special about this one? Well. Francis added a local twist by using one of the best local gins on the market, Archipelago Gin. As Ms. Bea of Full Circle Craft Distilleries described, it’s a botanical gin with 28 botanicals, 22 of which are found and foraged in the Philippines. Included are sampaguita, ylang-ylang, camia, Pangasinan mangoes (pinoy mangoes are the best mangoes, y’all), calamansi, and the favorite of the adopted dabawenya in me: Davao pomelos (or buongon where we’re from). The gin’s iconic bottle has the Philippine star embedded at the bottom of the bottle, and it’s capped with a laser-engraved copper cork as an homage to the German copper used to make the spirit. It definitely added a great, flavorful, local dimension to the classic Negroni.
Erato is, as Francis put it, a “mashup of Negroni, Americano, and Aperol Spritzer.” Named after the Latin translation of “error,” it’s a delicious concoction of Aperol, Rinumato, Campari, Fernet Branca, and Prosecco. It’s an enjoyable, refreshing “wrong” “cousin of a Negroni” that was stirred in a wine glass… giving it that ultra-chic look. Francis recommends it as the Negroni for people who want to start getting into the drink but are apprehensive with its bitterness.
Truthfully, I especially loved the ice creatively used for this cocktail because it had an orange frozen in it. Apart from its decorative component, this allowed the orange flavors to seep and infuse in the drink as it started to warm up. It’s also particularly interesting because it’s essentially a “vodka style Negroni.” I would personally recommend it to people who want a simpler, more citrusy cocktail.
Who wouldn’t want a cocktail made with a little showmanship, right? As Francis put it, this cocktail lets him be a bartender one moment and a shaman the next. Before someone reading this calls an old priest and a young priest (a reference to a Halloween classic, how timely), this is because Francis lit a sprig of rosemary to his “martini inspired Negroni.” This is one gorgeously aromatic, “thinking” cocktail in that… I could sniff the beverage all night.
This is the Negroni for those who like their cocktails flavorful. Francis decided to simply substitute dry vermouth to the sweet vermouth used for a classic Negroni giving the cocktail an earthy, herbal flavor profile. It’s got a bit of a kick to it in terms of flavor (it’s intense), so if one likes their drinks characterful this is absolutely the cocktail for them.
These Negronis weren’t part of the class but they were very good as well:
- Silver Negroni
They used tequila blanco as part of the cocktail. When I go back to Vu’s, I’ll order it again… especially on a hot day.
- Berry Negroni
Got a sweet tooth? Ending a meal? Then this is the Negroni for you.