We need to talk about Negroni

red streets
The people’s flag is Campari red, it shrouded oft our martyred dead—what mass agitation for Campari Week might look like. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
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They appropriate everything I’ve ever loved. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This is the third annual Negroni Week. From 1–7 June, that is. I suppose it’s possible that it began in Gruppo Campari’s marketing department, rather than as a popular clamour in the pubs, bars, fields, taverns and mean streets of the world, but for Campari, I don’t mind. Partly because I love the stuff—you can read my piece on that here—and partly because for years few others I knew liked it; they groaned, mocked, doubted and feared, even if many of them know better now. I always had a sense of Campari being friendless, beleaguered, unloved, neglected, and that lingers. It was always preposterous, given its mighty popularity in parts of the world, and is now much more so as the artisans and hipsters have taken it up. Anyhow, here’s to the noble Negroni, one of the best and strongest of cocktails, and a prime way to drink Campari. Continue reading

Bittersweetness and light: New Year’s Eve cocktails

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Bust of the double-headed Roman god Janus, Vatican museum. The month of January, also facing two ways, forward and back, is named after him. Credit: Fubar Obfusco (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons.

I began hating New Year somewhere in my teens and it took me years to make some sort of accommodation with it. After weeks of hoo-ha and feasting, rarely a quiet moment alone, there’s this. I enjoy the long Christmas, there’s much to be said for a spell of eating, drinking and irrational, even stupid cheerfulness, but after a while you  begin to at least half-crave some temperance and a book. Continue reading

An early glass of Christmas something

'Schofield family Christmas.' A Snowball might have helped. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
‘Schofield family Christmas.’ A Snowball might have helped. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes it’s useful to have some help easing through the early parts of Christmas day. This calls for a special kind of drink, if it’s drink you want. The principles are simple enough, but they require fine balance and nice judgement. Your drink should be apt to the season, it should be mild and undemanding, and it should set you up for the rest of the day. Let’s say that you could drink it mid-morning while unwrapping presents (if you have youngish children—ha!) or jawing harmlessly with the in-laws in that dead time before the food. If it seems unhealthy to be drinking before the sun hits the yardarm, at least it’s social, healthier than everyone withdrawing into their smartphones while one person cooks. Continue reading

The sweetness of life and the bitter herbs of death: Campari

bittercampariI first tried Campari with soda. We were sitting outside a restaurant, looking at the menu and thinking about lunch. For a moment the taste was fresh, clean, easily enjoyable; then came the choking bitterness. I drank again, just to make sure. Yes, it really was partially decocted from the bitter herbs of death. So I took the remainder down in one, like medicine. I never thought I’d return to it. Continue reading