Technically, the yearly event dubbed Girls Night Out is a retail marketing tool providing an opportunity for the ladies of the Village (not to be confused with the Village People), to support local merchants. Our favorite bakery will stay open late for everyone’s sugar and decaffeinated needs. Sorry girls, but other than the strawberry-rhubarb and blueberry pies I’ve left cooling on the Baker’s racks, I’m opting out of this one.
Yes, it very well may be Ladies Night but more importantly, it’s Negroni Week. The Negroni cocktail, comprised of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari has been dubbed according to Conde Nast Traveler, the ‘Cosmopolitan of the decade.’ Drinks International claims Negroni holds the number two spot of best selling classic cocktails just behind the Old Fashioned.
Campari is a key player in the Negroni, a bitter apéritif whose ingredients are shrouded in secrecy. The Campari brand was created in Northwest Italy and dates back to 1860. Today, Campari is garnering plenty of media attention. Negroni Week was launched in 2013 as a celebration of the flashy crimson cocktail and an effort to raise money for charitable causes around the world. The response has been overwhelming with this year’s participating bars, restaurants and retailers numbering well over 6,000.
This week, I was thrilled to team up with Alicia Walters of NYC’s Once Upon A Tart to create a recipe for Negroni tartlets. All proceeds benefit a charity close to my heart, Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights Aids.
Personally, the Negroni is the ideal cocktail for one who is both mathematically challenged and also referred to as a One Drink Wonder. Even I can fashion a cocktail composed of equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. Not only does it pack a substantial wallop, it makes a bold fashion statement in a rocks glass with a ribbon of orange peel. It also happens to lend itself brilliantly to pie.
Campari is considered an acquired taste, but I acquired it early on. The long necked bottle stood tall tucked behind the doors of my father’s mahogany bar. It was a beverage he would offer with a little ice and orange, maybe a splash of soda. It sounded terribly sophisticated, a drink both bitter and sweet, something I imagined Katherine Hepburn might have sipped in the 1955 classic film Summertime.
Sipping a Negroni gives me the illusion that I’m perfectly tanned, attired in crisp white linen. (A more accurate description would be a white polyester apron splattered in wayward fruit.) The fantasy of a fresh pedicure peeking out of fabulous Italian leather sandals seems perfectly reasonable with a Negroni in hand. The reality of baker’s legs and runner’s toes are best kept under wraps in kitchen clogs and sensible socks. A girl can dream.
In an ideal summer pie, Campari shakes things up, enhancing the combination of rhubarb, raspberry and orange. What better way is there to celebrate good times? Especially when there’s a party goin’ on right here. Come on!