With National Negroni Week (24th-30th June) this week, Edinburgh’s Contini George Street is raising a toast to a double centenary.
Mixologists at the family-run Italian restaurant have created a special menu of five new Negroni cocktails to mark not only the centenary of the classic Italian tipple, but also the 100th anniversary of the Contini family’s arrival in Edinburgh from Lazio in Italy.
The Negroni is a popular Italian cocktail, made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel. It is considered an aperitif. A properly made Negroni is stirred, not shaken, and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass over ice.
While the drink’s origins are unknown, the most widely reported account is that it was first mixed in Florence, Italy in 1919 at Caffè Casoni, (and now called Caffè Roberto Cavalli). Count Camillo Negroni concocted it by asking the bartender Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than the normal soda water. The bartender also added an orange garnish rather than the typical lemon garnish of the Americano to signify that it was a different drink.
A century later, the ruby-red cocktail is a firm favourite at Contini George Street, which is modelled on a Florentine Palazzo. Owned and operated by third generation Italian Scots, Victor and Carina Contini, the award-winning bar and restaurant opened its doors 15 years ago. Victor and Carina also own the award-winning Cannonball Restaurant & Bar on Castlehill and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.
Pimping up the traditional Negroni recipe
The ‘Contini ‘Summer Negroni’ has been created especially for the double centenary celebration for National Negroni Week. As well as Edinburgh Gin Cannonball, Bianco Vermouth, Campari, lemon juice and soda, it also includes honey from the bees kept by Contini George Street’s very own Victor Contini.
The ‘East Coast Negroni’ showcases Edinburgh Seaside Gin, Campari and grapefruit juice; while the ‘Capezzana Negroni’ includes Edinburgh Seaside Gin, Campari, Martini Rosso, Capezzana extra virgin olive oil served in a salt-rimmed glass with an olive.
The classic Contini Negroni includes Edinburgh Gin, Campari and Martini Riserva Rubino.
Completing the Negroni cocktail line-up is the ‘Negroni Sbagliato’, made with Campari, Martini Rosso and topped with Victor & Carina Contini Prosecco and a twist of orange.
And while you’re there, I would highly recommend trying a Martini Fiero Spritz. This brand new blood orange vermouth is a blend of citrus and bittersweet orange with crisp white wines and it’s fiery colour and zesty, fruity flavours are 100% natural. Try this new vermouth with a premium tonic, garnished with blood orange – it’s the perfect summer aperitif.
So get into the spirit of National Negroni Week, and head to Contini on George Street for some genuine Italian hospitality. It might not Florence but it’s as good as it’s going to get in Edinburgh.
Contini George Street
103 George Street
Edinburgh EH2 3ES
Tel: 0131 225 1550