From his post at the helm of Florence, Italy’s Caffè Rivoire in the Piazza della Signoria, barman Luca Picchi can make you any number of aperitivi: a refreshing Aperol or Campari spritz, the bold Milano Torino, or the easy-going Americano. But the king (or perhaps Count) of the preprandial cocktail is the Negroni.

According to the latest edition of Picchi’s book Negroni Cocktail: An Italian Legend (Giunti, 2015), the Negroni was created and named for Italian playboy-turned-cowboy Count Camillo Negroni by bartender Fosco Scarselli at Florence’s Caffè Casoni sometime between 1917 and 1920. At its simplest, a Negroni is one part each of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, the gin replacing the soda water of an Americano, which, Picchi points out, was so named not for its ingredients, “but rather the concept of making and drinking a cocktail in an American fashion,” that is, by mixing liquors. But even as the Negroni has entered the cocktail canon, so too has it been offered up as a challenge and a canvas for creativity and expression. Sure, you can combine five, seven, 12 ingredients to achieve a desired effect. But three is as much a prime number in cocktails as it is in mathematics.

From June 6-12, the fourth annual Negroni Week, presented by Campari and Imbibe magazine, will be celebrated by thousands of bars in countries around the world, including Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Japan and, of course, Italy. During Negroni Week, participating bars pledge to donate at least $1 from the sale of every Negroni to the charity of their choosing. Campari will donate an additional $10,000 to the charity chosen by the bar that raises the most money.

At press time, 37 venues had signed up on As to what exactly their Negroni might entail, well, the sky’s the limit! Negroni Week’s slogan is “Seven days, three ingredients, one simple way to give back,” but no one really seems to be counting ingredients. So expect to see audacious complexity as well as reverential simplicity. Gin will be swapped with other spirits such as bourbon for Boulevardiers. Maybe the sweet red vermouth gives way to a white, dry infusion. Or citrus graduates from garnish to glory.

Downtown at Oak & Ivy, lead bartender Chris Gutierrez has created the Spanish Roast, a Negroni made with Apostole Gin, Yzaguirre Bianco Vermouth, Campari and Central American coffee that drips through a Japanese coffee maker; proceeds from its sale during Negroni Week will benefit the Shade Tree shelter.

To prepare for Negroni Week in Las Vegas, we recently assembled quite the formidable cocktail party of our own with Francesco Lafranconi (executive director of mixology and spirits education for Southern Wine & Spirits), his colleague Livio Lauro (Southern’s senior director of resort spirits sales, who also translated Picchi’s first edition into English) and the “Modern Mixologist,” Tony Abou-Ganim, who will lead Team Negroni in a 40-mile bicycle ride through Red Rock Canyon to raise money for the Helen David Relief Fund for bartenders affected by cancer. The Las Vegas ride closes out a week of four rides in four U.S. cities.

Given free reign at Southern’s Academy room, Abou-Ganim prepared a classic Negroni, served up, “as I first learned it in 1991 at Harry Denton’s on [San Francisco’s] Steuart Street, long before I visited Florence and discovered they serve the Negroni on the rocks!” Abou-Ganim says he will also make a barrel-aged Negroni available at the Goose Island Lounge in the T-Mobile Arena, where he oversees the cocktail program.

Lafranconi used prosecco in place of gin to make a Negroni Sbagliato. “Sbagliato means ‘messed up’ or ‘mistaken’ in Italian,” he says. “The Negroni Sbagliato was created at Bar Basso in Milan in 1968.” In 2011, Lafranconi helped Picchi prepare and serve what was then the world’s largest Negroni at Tales of the Cocktail, the preeminent gathering of beverage professionals and aficionados.

Finally, Lauro honored Picchi by building a classic Negroni the way it’s served today at Caffè Rivoire: on the rocks, and with a whole slice of orange slipped down between the ice and the glass.

In Florence, Picchi prepares as many as 80 of those Negronis each day, and gives his a little burst of soda water and a quick stir to loosen and liven the ingredients. He also serves his Negronis alongside dainty gelatin-shot versions of the drink, representing “the past and the future,” as he sees it. But that’s his prerogative—he literally wrote the book on the Negroni.

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