For locked-down Melburnians hiding under the doona, here’s a happy reminder that it’s currently Negroni Week, an international celebration of the cocktail invented in Italy 101 years ago.
The most widely recounted Negroni creation story goes that Count Camillo Negroni couldn’t get enough of the good stuff in his glass, and asked his bartender to replace the soda water in his Americano with gin.
The classic Negronic comprises one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, one part Campari, poured over ice in an old-fashioned glass and garnished with a jaunty curl of orange peel. “But it’s better with rum,” ascertains the crew at Mornington Peninsula rum distillery JimmyRum, which describes the rum cocktail as boozy and floral, with a bitter orange kick.
JimmyRum has put together a trifecta of Negronis – the classic Negroni, a chilli & coffee Negroni and an intriguing smoked Negroni – which come vacuum sealed in plastic baggies, with garnishes at the ready. Alternatively, for the same price, you can order a whole bottle of one of the three varieties.
James McPherson, who is JimmyRum’s Chief Ideas Man (his real title) told Essentials their Negroni fairies are travelling as far and wide as Cranbourne up to the Yarra Valley, and even plan to cross the Westgate to spread their warm, rummy love, created in the distillery’s Italian-born, 1500-litre copper still, Matilda.
McPherson, whose research mission included visiting more than 70 distilleries across the world to taste rum, says he’s a straight-down-the-line, standard Negroni drinker, while his bar manager Mick is the coffee-chilli fan. The bar’s self-describe cocktail guru, Harrison, blended the smoky Negroni, which is normally served at the bar beneath a cloche, for a big reveal in a puff of smoke.
If, like us, you have a list of dream bar stools to occupy after lockdown, Jimmy Rum is in the Dromana Industrial Estate – which is so much cooler than its name sounds – on the Mornington Peninsula. This happening little patch includes a gluten-free brewery, a vegan dairy, a solar-powered bakery, coffee roaster and Bass & Flinders’ gin distillery next door.
A set of three cocktails (standard, chilli/coffee, smoky) costs $65, including delivery. A bottle of JimmyRum Negroni costs $65, 375ml (4 drinks), or $110 for three bottles, one in each flavour.
Delivery is one day only Thursday 17 September, available to Melbourne residents only.