A classic negroni with spices has become our favourite Christmas cocktail since we first came up with the idea during one of the first festive seasons we spent in Cambodia. 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 cocktail recipes we’re going to share between now and Christmas and the New Year. We’ve started with a recipe for our favourite cocktail, the negroni but not just any negroni, a classic negroni with spices recipe for a festive Christmas 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. Let’s tell you all about this classic negroni with spices.
Classic Negroni with Spices Recipe for a Festive Christmas Negroni
We sampled our first classic negroni in Turin and our first Aperol spritz in Venice on our inaugural trip to Italy way back in 1999. But it wasn’t until some years later when we were combining our annual summer holidays with a guidebook research and writing trip in Northern Italy, that we formed a couple of very Italian cocktail sipping habits.
First, we developed a habit of ordering a mid-morning spritz in Venice, just as the locals do, after shopping the morning markets – and then we adopted the custom of sipping a negroni during aperitivo hour in Milan, where we’d settled in to write up the guidebook.
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 warming 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.
Tips to Making this Classic Negroni with Spices 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. So our first tip to making this classic negroni spices starts with the spices.
Our classic negroni with spices has a handful of local ingredients – star anise, cinnamon stick, orange zest, and palm sugar – that warm the drink up, giving it a Christmas flavour, and injecting some festive spirit without transforming the classic cocktail into something that it isn’t.
When it comes to the spices, do make sure they’re fresh. If they’re not, you can roast them in a dry pan for a few minutes until fragrant. If they don’t give off spicy aromas, then bin them and go buy fresh cinnamon and star anise.
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 Recipe
- 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.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you tried our classic negroni with spices.