This Was Anthony Bourdain's Favorite Pre-Dinner Cocktail

Anthony Bourdain smiling in blue blazer
Anthony Bourdain smiling in blue blazer - Mike Pont/Getty Images

The late food writer and TV host Anthony Bourdain was just as enthusiastic about drinks as he was about food. Specifically, cocktails. Even more specifically, Negroni cocktails. "A Negroni is a perfect drink as far as I'm concerned," he said in an interview with Barron's at the 4th Annual American Craft Council Fellowship Awards in 2016.

While he was "not particularly interested" in the three liquors that comprise the cocktail, something magical happened when he mixed them in a glass and perfectly added an orange peel. "It's a real grown-up drink," he said. "That first sip is confusing and not particularly pleasant. But man, it grows on you."

Aside from its sophisticated flavor, Bourdain celebrated the Negroni for its "appetite-building" qualities, making it an ideal aperitif before dinner — one that's equally "satanic" and "delicious," as he put it on an episode of Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night Eats." Here's what makes it so great.

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Gin: An Honorary Aperitif

Negroni in crystal glass
Negroni in crystal glass - Bhofack2/Getty Images

A Negroni is made with equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. The resulting tipple is a slightly bitter, slightly sweet, reddish-orange-hued delight that's just as refreshing as an after-dinner drink (digestif) as it is a pre-dinner drink (aperitif). Indeed, vermouth and Campari are often enjoyed independently to stimulate the appetite. Adding gin to the equation makes the drink a little boozier than your average aperitif, which is why Bourdain recommends a maximum of two for the whole night.

While there are many ways to put a spin on a classic Negroni, Bourdain stuck to the tried-and-true version by stirring one part gin, one part vermouth, and one part Campari in a low-ball glass. When he wasn't making Negronis at home (or for a late-night talk show), he liked to knock them back at Chef Daniel Boulud's now-closed Bowery bistro, DBGB Kitchen & Bar.

From Americano To Negroni To Sbagliato (And Back)

Bottle of Campari and cocktail
Bottle of Campari and cocktail - vvoe/Shutterstock

Bourdain didn't need the excuse of an imminent meal to fix himself a Negroni (and you don't, either), but the cocktail happens to have several trappings of an Italian-approved aperitif. Its dry profile is sweet enough to be tasty but not so cloying as to overpower the palate and curb the appetite. After all, the point of a pre-dinner cocktail is to stimulate your taste buds.

Another classic marker of an aperitif is a low ABV, which is where a Negroni strays from tradition. Swap your gin for soda water if you'd prefer to go light on the booze before dinner. The refreshing adaptation isn't an adaptation at all but rather the precursor to the Negroni. As Bourdain explained on "Late Night Eats," the Negroni was born from a Venetian man's desire for a stronger version of the Americano.

For something a bit bubblier, go the way of "House of the Dragon" star Olivia Cooke by using prosecco in place of gin or soda water. We're unsure if Bourdain ever tried a Negroni sbagliato, as it's called, but something tells us he would approve.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal