Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Italy: Negronis and Cigars

Bourbon was not a beverage we saw much during our stay in Italy, though in truth I was not expecting it either. Obviously we drank a lot of wine with our meals. When I went looking for a cocktail to enjoy with an evening cigar, the Negroni was a commonly available option. At our hotel in Assisi, the Negroni was the 7 Euro "special" available each evening, so an obvious choice. During the afternoons, the clerk on duty had mixology knowledge limited to Aperol Spritz, hence that beverage during a previous smoking break.

The Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail, that is very simple to make. It consists of equal parts gin, vermouth rosso, and Campari, stirred over ice and garnished with an orange slice typically.  As a side note, cocktails are about the only time one sees ice in drinks in Italy.

Despite being considered an apéritif, we usually enjoyed the negronis after dinner. (Especially at the hotel in Assisi where there was no one with the knowledge to prepare the drink until after 7:00PM.) One evening pairing was with a Rocky Patel The Edge 20th Anniversary Robusto. The cigar features a 10 year aged Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, a Honduran Broadleaf binder, with filler tobaccos from Honduras and Panama. The 5 1/2 x 50 Robusto is is a medium bodied smoke with rich notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and nuts.

Later in the trip, another evening and another Negroni, this time with the Plasencia Reserva Original Toro. The richly flavored 6 x 50 Toro has notes of espresso, cedar, pepper, and dark cherry, with some sweet bread in the background.

Did I mention I enjoyed a lot of Negronis in Ireland? Here's another pairing, this time properly consumed before dinner. This one was served in a water glass, with both an orange slice and a lemon peel. It was paired with the last of my cigars brought from home, a Crowned Heads Le Carême in the Canonazo (5 7/8 x 52) vitola. The Le Carême is one of my favorite smokes. This 5 7/8 x 52 box pressed stick has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Sumatra binder, and Nicaraguan fillers. Though is has a creamy, sweet chocolate and nutty flavor profile it made another enjoyable pairing. (From this point on, smoking would be be limited to Italian Toscanos.

The Negroni is a more bitter cocktail than the sweeter profile of my usual straight bourbon, or Old Fashioned cocktail choices. However, all the cigar pairings were enjoyable. It was Italy after all.

And then...
When a friend who was also on the Italy trip came by for dinner recently, we decided to recreate the memory with more Negroni and cigars!


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