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Cocktail stories: Unlikely Negroni

New York bar Dante has turned the classic bitter gin cocktail on its head with a recipe that includes flavours from Southeast Asian cuisine.

Dante’s Naren Young

The Negroni is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2019, and for New York drinking den Dante the cocktail has become a staple on its drink list. The bar offers a menu dedicated to the apéritif, featuring its classic Negroni on tap and quirkier twists such as the Negroni Bianco made with Brooklyn Gin, Quinquina apéritif, Alessio Bianco and lemon bitters.

Of the 12 variations the bar lists on its Negroni Sessions menu, Dante’s Unlikely Negroni is the standout. “I wanted to create something a little odd and polarising for the more intrepid Negroni drinker,” says Naren Young, creative director at Dante. “I wanted to use a few complementary flavours found in Southeast Asian cuisine, such as Thai chilli, Thai pineapple drinking vinegar, sesame oil, banana and coconut.”

The Unlikely Negroni switches out the gin for Cabeza Blanco Tequila and adds banana, pineapple shrub, chilli and sesame. “It’s a little spicier than the classic,” says Young.

The cocktail, which has been on the menu at Dante since it opened in Greenwich Village in 2015, can sound daunting. “Some people are sceptical at first,” says Young. “But the Unlikely Negroni has been much more popular than I expected. People really dig it.”

The Unlikely Negroni shares the menu with a number of Negroni twists, such as a Chocolate Negroni, made with Fords Gin, Campari, Punt e Mes, crème de cacao and chocolate bitters; and the Negroni Coffee Swizzle, which combines Del Maguey mezcal, Martini Ambrato, Meletti Bitter and cold-brew coffee.

But Young is keen to point out that it’s important for bartenders to master the classic recipe before creating their own twist. He says: “Too often young bartenders don’t get the original right before they throw strange ingredients and avant-garde techniques at it.”

Click through to the next page for a list of ingredients and how the Unlikely Negroni is made.

Dante’s Unlikely Negroni


30ml Cabeza Blanco Tequila

20ml Campari

20ml Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

7.5ml Kalani Coconut Liqueur

7.5ml Giffard Crème Banane

1 bar spoon Pineapple drinking vinegar

8 drops Thai chilli tincture

1 dash Saline solution


Add the ingredient to a mixing glass, fill with ice and stir until chilled and combined. Strain the cocktail into a chilled Nick & Nora glass and garnish with a banana chip topped with a drop of sesame oil.

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