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Where to Celebrate Negroni Week in San Diego

Local bartenders get creative and support charity starting June 5


Officine Buona Forchetta's Peppegroni cocktail

For bartenders, few cocktails are as sacred as the Negroni. The classic version — equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari — has inspired countless variations. It’s also inspired a lot of philanthropy: in 2013, Imbibe magazine launching Negroni Week, an annual event (this year, June 5 through 11) where bars serve their best takes on the cocktail and donate a portion of sales to charity. You can find a rundown of participating San Diego bars on the Negroni Week website, but to make things a little easier, here’s a by-no-means exhaustive guide to some local offerings. There are rum versions, mezcal versions, interesting vermouths, aperitifs, and lots of creativity.


Proof at The Hake

Charity: No Kid Hungry + Surfrider Foundation

The Hake’s Joan Villaneueva is turning Negroni Week into a month and making it a global event. The Negroni as a cocktail dates back to early 20th century Florence, when Count Camillo Negroni, the story goes, was looking for a more potent take on an Americano. The Count was a world traveler, so Villaneueva imagined what he might have been served had he gone looking for his new favorite cocktail in other countries. This imaginative take gives guests the chance to try spirits and flavor profiles from other countries in cocktails that still honor the Negroni philosophy.

The Hake's imagined voyage of Count Negroni

In Poland, the base spirit might have been Zubrowka, a fragrant vodka, plus Grand Marnier, and Aperol (a sweeter, lighter alternative to Campari). Had the Count visited Portugal, maybe he’d be served something with white Porto, Suze (a bittersweet aperitif), and Luxardo Maraschino. Amsterdam? Bols Genever (Dutch gin), Suze, and elderflower liqueur. Jamaica? Appleton rum, Allspice Dram, and an oleo saccharum made with key limes. The Hake’s Negroni Week goes through June, giving you plenty of chances to fill up your Negroni passport.


The Hive

Charity: USBG National Charity Foundation

The Hive’s Ram Udwin is serving a classic Negroni and a take on a Boulevardier (a Negroni made with bourbon). His Black Box Boulevardier includes coconut oil fat-washed Cynar 70 (a chocolatey, boozier version of the original), coco nib-infused Woodford Rye, and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. For the Fay Wray Negroni, Udwin’s using Wray and Nephew rum, Aperol vermouth, honey, and Boy Drinks World passion fruit bitters.


Kettner Exchange's Rad Negroni

Kettner Exchange

Charity: One More Wave

Each bartender at Kettner Exchange created a cocktail for Negroni Week — eight in all, like Claire Sexton’s Vampure, made with blood orange-infused dry white rum, Cocchi Americano aperitif, Campari, lemon, and Peychaud’s Bitters. Julie Scott’s Mrs. Bitterman includes gin, Campari, Ancho Verde liqueur, and Luxardo’s Bitter Bianco. The menu also includes six classic takes on the Negroni. On Thursday, June 8, starting at 7 p.m., stop by for a special fundraiser to benefit One More Wave, a nonprofit that provides equipment and assistance so wounded vets can learn to surf.


Sycamore Den

Charity: Sierra Club of San Diego

Normal Heights’ Sycamore Den has come up with three very different takes on a Negroni that range from a lighter option (the Dutch Soda, made with genever, sweet vermouth, Averna, and soda), to the smokey Oaxacan By (mezcal, Campari, blanco vermouth, grapefruit bitters, and salt) and the fruit-forward Otters Den (gin, Campari, dry vermouth, orange, and pineapple)


George’s / Level 2

Charity: Surfrider Foundation

George’s / Level 2 head bartender Stephen Kurpinsky and his team of bartenders came up with five clever Negroni variations to benefit the Surfrider Foundation. They include Cole Shepherd’s Bitter Palm Sling (coconut fat-washed Bols Genever, Campari, Thai basil, lemongrass-infused dry vermouth, Meyer lemon, and coconut), Jennifer Welsh’s Strawberry Fields Forever (Botanist dry gin, white vermouth, strawberry-infused Campari, lavender syrup, lemon, and cava), and Kurpinsky’s Kingston Candy (Appleton Signature blend rum, Carpano Antica, Campari, oleo saccharum, and citric acid).


Polite Provisions

Charity: No Kid Hungry

Polite Provisions is serving five Negroni variations, including a Smoked Negroni Swizzle (mezcal, Campari, falernum, honey syrup, and lemon juice) and the Red Light District, which substitutes gin with a sweet, sparkling rosé.


Officine Buona Forchetta

Charity: McKinley Elementary art program

Bar Manager Alessandro Riva’s Peppegroni combines St. George dry rye gin, Carpano Antica, St. George Bruto Americano, and peppercorn-infused Campari. It’s garnished with fragrant slices of red and green bell peppers. Check it out at Buona Forchetta’s new Liberty Station location.


The Nolen

Charity: No Kid Hungry

The Nolen's serving three Negroni-inspired cocktails: A classic made with Genever; Dorothy's Sipper (Campari, reposado tequila, Chianti Classico); and the Hannibal Lecter, a lighter version of a Negroni, made with Lillet Blanc instead of sweet vermouth.


…And there’s more!


Cucina Sorella Kensington

Charity: Baja Dog Rescue
White Negroni: Gin, Dolin Blanc vermouth, Suze, grapefruit bitters


Craft & Commerce

Charity: Pit Bull Rescue San Diego
Jungle Boulevardier: Campari, Carpano Antica, Plantation pineapple rum, Hamilton pot still black rum, orange zest


Cucina Enoteca Del Mar

Charity: Baja Dog Rescue
Sparkling Blood Orange Negroni: Blood orange juice, gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, prosecco


Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge

Charity: One More Wave
Oaxacan Negroni: Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Campari, Carpano Antica, grapefruit bitters


Mess Hall Bar @ Liberty Station

Charity: No Kid Hungry
Negroni Santo: St. George Botanviore gin, St. George Bruto Americano, Carpano Antica, Campari


Soda & Swine @ Liberty Station

Charity: No Kid Hungry
Fancy-a-roni: Spring 44 Mountain View gin, Gancia Americano, Casa Mariol Vermut, lemon


Grant Grill

Charity: No Kid Hungry
SoCal Spritz: Bols Genever, Campari, dry vermouth, fresh grapefruit juice, sparkling rosé


Bar By Red Door

Charity: Slow Food International
Cuttle Time: Nori and black sesame Bols Genever, cuttlefish ink, lemon-infused Campari, Carpano Bianco vermouth

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