A classic negroni with spices has become our new Christmas drink. You need a really good reason to mess with a classic negroni recipe and as far as we’re concerned there are few better reasons than Christmas.

This is the first in a series of festive and seasonal cocktail recipes we’re going to share between now and the New Year. We’ve started with our favourite drink, the negroni.

The classic negroni has been our go-to drink for some years now. When we were young we went through our vodka lime and soda and gin and tonic phases. After travelling to Mexico and Cuba, we were mixing margaritas and mojitos on weekend afternoons. Following my first trip to South America, I returned to Australia with recipes for caipirinhas and pisco sours. There’s a pattern emerging and it’s a preference for classic cocktails clearly.

We sampled our first classic negroni in Turin and Aperol spritz in Venice on our first trip to Italy in 1999. But it wasn’t until some years later, holidaying and researching travel guidebooks in Italy, that we formed a habit of ordering a mid-morning spritz – as the locals do, after shopping the morning markets – and sipping a negroni during aperitivo hour, in Milan, where we’d settled in to write a book.

It was the classic negroni that became our go-to drink – long before we even realised it had taken the world by storm. And when we did and bartenders began experimenting, we remained loyal to the classic negroni. Nobody needs to mess with a negroni – except at Christmas.

The egg nog isn’t suited to Cambodia, so stumbling across recipes for Christmas negronis and negronis with winter spices, I asked Terence to concoct something similar that was Christmassy yet didn’t stray too far from the classic negroni that we loved.

A lot of the innovative new negroni recipes require additional liquors such as rum and vodka and even mezcal, along with a thousand and one spices. But add too much and it’s no longer a negroni. It needs a new name.

Terence has mixed a classic negroni with subtle spice and fruit that – in keeping with the Christmas spirit – has warmed the drink up. And he’s stuck with the ingredients we can get here in our own backyard in Siem Reap – Cambodian oranges, star anise, and cinnamon sticks, which he has simmered into a sugar (and spice) syrup.

Classic Negroni with Spices – Our Recipe for a Warming Christmas Negroni

Terence’s classic negroni with spices is our new go-to Christmas drink. It doesn’t stray far from the original heady aperitif that we know and love so well – we haven’t added rum or vodka or mezcal – which is why we’re still calling it a ‘classic’ negroni with spices.

Yet our classic negroni with spices has a handful of additional ingredients – star anise, cinnamon stick, orange zest, and palm sugar – that warm the drink up, give it a Christmas flavour, and inject some festive spirit without transfo the classic negroni into something that it isn’t. Try it and let us know what you think.

If you look at the photo, you can see that there is a single spherical ice cube in the glass. The reason is that the spherical ice cube melts slower and keeps the drink cold. There’s nothing worse than a negroni that’s weak and warm. You can pick up spherical ice makers here and you can thank me later.

Classic Negroni with Spices

Classic negroni with spices. Copyright © 2017 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Classic negroni with a spicy twist

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 1
Calories: 254kcal
Author: Lara Dunston


  • 1 piece star anise
  • 1 piece cinnamon stick
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 100 g palm sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 30 ml Gin
  • 30 ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 30 ml Campari


  • First we need to make the spicy sugar syrup. Combine the star anise, cinnamon stick, orange zest, palm sugar, and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir the spicy mixture until the sugar has dissolved and reduce over low heat to half the original volume. Take off heat and allow to cool.
  • Add Campari, gin, and vermouth to an ice-filled tumbler and stir. Add a tablespoon of the spicy sugar syrup and continue stirring.
  • Place a spherical ice cube in an old-fashioned glass and quickly strain the negroni from the tumbler into the glass.
  • Add a twist of orange and a cinnamon stick to garnish.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 21.5g | Sodium: 1mg | Sugar: 12g

We’d love to hear from you if you try our Classic Negroni with Spices.

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