Our Favorite New York Gins for Your Negroni

‘Tis negroni season. Make your best with Empire State spirits.

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My wife is on the wagon. Not that wagon, exactly. But she has made an abrupt and troubling shift in her drinking habits. Just as red-hued comestibles and imbibables are trending in our region, from rhubarb to strawberries to pink wine, all I’m seeing in our cocktail shaker is the blush of a well-made Negroni.

For years, we maintained a stalwart allegiance to Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and other brown booze concoctions. It was Mad Men-inspired, in part, but also resulted from the availability of great ryes, whiskeys and bourbons spilling from Empire State stills.

With the concern of a husband I scanned the relevant media (Liquor, Serious Eats, Imbibe) and sought the counsel of alcohol-minded contacts to make sure this shfit wasn’t pathological.

Is this a seasonal change? A maturity of her palate? A result of really good gins, like Hendrick’s and New York Distilling Company and Greenhook Ginsmiths? Should I be bracing for an avalanche of gin and tonics, or even seeing her drink her gin neat?

It turns out she’s not alone. Last week was Negroni Week, the hashtag-driving promotion by Imbibe magazine in conjunction with Campari to push the drink at restaurants and bars coast to coast. On our website, Ali Rosen of Potluck Video explained how to select the best gin for your Negroni.

At Edible, we have just rolled out our own cocktail competition with Hendrick’s Gin; bartenders are lining up from Manhattan to Montauk and we suspect many will submit Negroni-like creations. (Avid cocktail drinkers stay tuned for your role to vote and win.)

Channing Daughters winemaker Christopher Tracy, whose vermouth showed up in the “Local Color,” made with Dorothy Parker gin, Channing Daughters Winery vermouth and peychaud bitters, one of the four shades of Negroni Gramercy Tavern is offering for NegroniWeek. “We too are bowled over by the quality of our local NY spirits including and especially the gins. Greenhook Ginsmiths, Brooklyn Gin, NY Distilling Company, Breuckelen Distilling, Tuthilltown Spirits and so many more are putting out world class spirits.” He added that the botanical nature of these fine gins is especially appealing, as is the range of cocktails gin lends itself to, from classics like G and T’s to fizz’s to negroni’s to martinis and Gibsons.

Perhaps the most reassuring note came from cocktails guru Dave Wondrich: “In general, along with everyone else I find I prefer somewhat lighter spirits in the summer than I do in the winter,” he said. “Although the preference is by no means absolute: a nice New York Sour with rye still hits the spot, but I might not make quite so many Manhattans and Rob Roys. But I’m not going to project my palate onto someone else — your wife might just prefer Negronis. Some people drink ’em all year round (myself among them).”

To make your best New York-inspired Negroni, we suggest the gins listed above, including bottles from New York Distilling Company, Greenhook Ginsmiths, Brooklyn GinBreuckelen DistillingTuthilltown Spirits and Finger Lakes Distilling

Photo credit: Flickr/Geoff Peters 604

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Brian is the editor in chief of Edible East End, Edible Long Island, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. He writes from his home in Sag Harbor, New York, where he and his family tend a home garden and oysters. He is also obsessed with ducks, donuts and dumplings.