Negroni Week or The Art of Combining Charity and Cocktails
For the third time this year Campari invites bars to participate in its global charity event Negroni Week. MIXOLOGY spoke to the bartenders and organizers who passionately believe in the magic of community, charity and, of course, the beauty of the Negroni.
The ingenuity of the Negroni lies in its components, which are exactly three. Campari is capitalizing on the drink’s brilliance with its third annual Negroni Week. Last week, on one of Berlin’s first true summer evenings, Campari hosted a Negroni Night in celebration of the upcoming Negroni Week (June 1st to June 7th) at Kreuzberg’s Kantine Kohlmann. Only days after the raucous Mayday celebrations the streets were tidy and filled with people spilling out of bars. Blinding sunlight filtered into the space, bouncing off mirrors and golden details, bathing the bar into warm sunlight that felt like a thousand promises of the summer to come.
The Campari crew was out in full swing. After a short introduction by Campari’s Jan Philipp Bubinger and Kantine Kohlmann’s bar manager Roberto Delucio, brand ambassador Mauro Mahjoub held a passionate speech about the origins of the Negroni. Special guest Leo Robitschek joined him to rousing applause, which he politely ignored. A broken leg didn’t stop the New York bartender from climbing the stairs and addressing the crowd about the value of community within the bartending trade.
Shortly afterwards, ever the bartender Leo had already busied himself, picking up empty glasses and checking on patrons’ drink level, MIXOLOGY snatched him away for a short conversation. Only in Berlin for the night he was already worried about the “late closing hours that always try to kill me”.
Leo Robitscheks first Negroni
When asked about his first ever Negroni the bartender chuckled “That was actually on a cruise boat with my sister. I was 13 or 14 at the time and we tasted our way through the entire bar. I only started loving the Negroni later on though, when I moved to New York and I’d gotten over my ‘Sex and the City’ cocktail phase, which basically existed of refreshing, citrus-based drinks. Then I began to truly appreciate the Negroni. In fact, I had my first ‘real one’ at the Oak Room, in New York’s Plaza Hotel.” This is the second year that The Nomad Bar and Eleven Madison Park will join Negroni Week. In 2014 Leo created the Negroni Jitney for the event, which includes coffee-infused sweet vermouth, Cinzano Bianco, and mezcal. This year he’ll be making a cocktail inspired by the bar’s surrounding neighborhood, which is the Flatiron district.
What he loves about Negroni Week, as well as bartending in general, is the community. “Charity and alcohol don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but that’s what’s happening here. We’re basically poisoning people and they’re having fun while doing so. And if at the end of the day we can help somebody out, what’s not to love? Community is such an important factor for me, one that I didn’t believe in for a long time. When I first began working most people were very competitive and precious with their recipes. Through events like these the bartending community grows closer together, while simultaneously doing good. At the end of the day, we all benefit from the fact that one can drink better drinks at more places. And because Campari lets us choose the charities we donate to, we’re able to invest the money right back into our neighborhoods and communities”.
How to Donate
Bars participating in Negroni Week can choose how much to donate per drink, $1.00 or €1.00 is the suggested amount. At the end of the week donations are tallied and the bars are free to choose their own charity, Kantine Kohlmann for example is donating to a shelter in Kreuzberg. It’s up to the participants to keep it as local as they’d like. And, because of the simple beauty of the Negroni, it’s not just cocktail bars that are encouraged to participate. The local watering hole down the street is likely to have vermouth, gin, and Campari at hand – and easy as that they too can be a part of the event.
Brand ambassador Mauro Mahjoub is nothing if not a person who enjoys life to the fullest, soaking up every bit and leaving nary a drop behind. A longtime advocate of the Negroni he believes that you need to offer your customer well-tested classics before throwing them something special every now and then. Out of the ordinary should not become the norm. That night he’d brought along three barrel-aged Negronis. All barrels were made from oak wood, though the second quickly become the definitive crowd pleaser.
The Negroni had been aged in a bourbon-washed barrel and made with bourbon instead of gin. Darker than usual, the wood tannins complemented the slightly vanilla spiced drink beautifully. Though nothing will ever replace a freshly prepared cocktail, a barrel functions as an eye-catcher as well as speeding up the serving process, something many bars should consider come peak hours.
Negroni Week will take place from June 1st to 7th this year, keep a look out and encourage your locals to participate. Drinkin’ and charity – it’s a thing now.
Foto: via Campari Germany