Negroni Week: The Contessa Cocktail Recipe

Negroni Week: The Contessa Cocktail Recipe

Negroni Week: The Contessa Cocktail Recipe

It’s Negroni Week! All around the world, 5000 bars and restaurants are serving up their favorite version or variant of this beloved classic cocktail, and giving the profits to charity. We’re joining in the fun, by posting our own Negroni Recipes. We started off with an introduction to Negroni Week, and with the Federal Negroni. And today we feature perhaps the most famous of the Negroni variants.

Origin stories for cocktails are hardly ever what you’d call strictly historically accurate. They’re more like legends, and the legend of the birth of the Negroni is a charming one. In 1919, Count Camillo Negroni ordered his favorite drink, the Americano, which is equal parts sweet vermouth, Campari, with soda water to cut it. This particular day, though, he wasn’t in the mood for cutting; so he asked the bartender, ‘How about we leave out the water,’ and then going completely the other direction added, ‘and add gin instead?’ Thus, a world-renowned cocktail was born (and another was basically left to history).

We don’t know who created the Contessa, but we know that they didn’t mind their drinks stronger, but they did like them softer. Campari is a bracingly bitter liqueur made from orange rinds. It can be wonderfully refreshing, but sometimes it’s just a little too much. Campari has a softer, sweeter sister, made by the same distiller, called Aperol. The creator of the Contessa figured that Aperol would be just the thing to smooth out Campari’s rough edges. They were right.

Contessa Cocktail Recipe



  • Add liquid ingredients to a mixing glass, and fill the glass with ice.
  • Stir for 30 to 40 rotations, until the drink is well-chilled and the ice half-melted.
  • Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish.

Roberts & June