Q: First off, you are the queen of Negronis! We decided to do this interview for Negroni week, because you love them so much, and we “met” first, because you bought yourself one of our decanters engraved with Negroni. Now we’re selling them for Negroni Week! If the proceeds weren’t all going to charity, I’d give you cut :) So what is it about a Negroni that floats your boat so much? Do you remember your first Negroni?
A: That’s incredibly flattering, both the title and the fact that there are now other Negroni decanters out there! I can’t remember my first Negroni but I do remember my first Campari experience. When my husband and I moved to Zurich for a year back in 2008, there was a bottle in our apartment. I tried a splash in some orange juice and to be honest, I could barely stomach it. But by the time we left, I couldn’t live without it! I came back from Zurich itching to dig deeper into cocktails, and the craft cocktail bar scene had exploded while we were away. As I started exploring, the Negroni became the first drink I’d order when visiting a bar or restaurant for the first time. I learned that I could tell what to expect from the rest of the evening based on how the bartender mixed that classic cocktail. I’m still amused by how many different ways there are to interpret a simple drink of three equal parts.
Q: Are you a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 lady? Up or on the rocks?
Equal parts, please. Served on the rocks on a warm day in Italy is the ultimate, of course. At home, I mostly just build them in a glass on one big ice cube and add an orange slice, but out and about I’m actually not too picky (well… don’t shake my Negroni, that’s all I ask). I like to see a little personality from the bar or bartender come through in their Negroni, and part of that comes from ordering simply and leaving the choices up to them. Sometimes it shows up on a big, sexy, clear piece of ice, sometimes they ask if I’m up for a little experimenting and I end up with a wacky egg white variation, and sometimes (though it happens less and less now) they say, “We don’t have that,” thinking I asked for a Peroni beer. Ha! Those are the people you don’t want making your Negroni anyway.
Q: Are there some variations on a Negroni that you love as well?
Oh, I love them all: Americano, Sbagliato, Boulevardier, and so on. And I love playing around with variations at home. One of the first things I think about when I try a new spirit or liqueur is which component it would take the place of in a Negroni variation. Basically if it’s bittersweet, I love it. Variations are fun and there’s plenty of room for them. When I posted a photo to Instagram of a Negroni I made with Don Cicchio & Figli’s Cinque Aperitivo, which is similar to Campari but a little softer and a little lower ABV, I made the variation clear but still someone sassed me saying “No Campari, No Negroni!” and I was probably more offended than I should let the internet get me. Don’t you dare question my devotion to the classic! I once took a four-hour train ride from Zurich to Milan just to visit the Galleria Campari museum, have a Negroni at the historic Camparino bar, and then turn around and take the train back.
Q: I know that you have great taste both in cocktails and design and that you were/are a graphic designer. Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
My degree is in design and I spent a few years after college working in print. After I made my own wedding invitations, I started doing the same for other people. Weddings led to general events and general events led to cocktail events. I have to admit though, I’m probably too talkative to ever go back to full-time graphic design now, but it is still a big part of who I am and it guides and informs almost everything I do.
Living in Zurich really brought out my passion for travel - I’m fascinated by the intersection between culture and cocktails. I’ve become what you might call an expert cocktail tourist - I get texts from friends on vacation in various cities around the world, asking for advice on which bar they should go to and what they should drink there. Here at home, I’ve started creating custom home bars for new cocktail enthusiasts - helping them learn what they love, how to mix their favorites, and keeping them stocked with tasty ingredients. Whatever I’m working on, it’s all about remembering that cocktails are meant to be fun and convivial.