The Negroni is considered one of the iconic classic cocktails of the 20th Century. Most accounts claim that it was invented in Florence, Italy in 1919 by Count Camillo Negroni. Whatever its origins, though it is a tasty drink that is coming back in popularity. Helping it along, Imbibe Magazine started Negroni Week in 2013 as a way to both bring back the drink’s popularity and also a way that restaurants and bars around the world could donate money to the charity of their choice for the week. Around the world, last year over 1,300 bars participated in Negroni Week, raising more than $120,000 for charity. This year, Negroni Week is taking place from June1 through June 7.
In Rancho Santa Margarita, The Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar is one of the fine establishments taking part in the event. Tony Monaco, owner of The Blind Pig, said today that “We’re doing Miracles for Kids and we’re going to give 20 percent of our Negroni sales for that week to the Miracles for Kids charity. We’ve actually just found out about them, they’re a local non-profit and they basically give back so that parents of ill kids who have fatal diseases, they help support the parents with groceries and clothing. There’s one thing which caught our eye and that was a program they do, it’s called ‘Basket of Miracles’ and basically it’s a program where they’ll package fresh produce and fruits, so it runs parallel to our philosophy here at the Pig”.
Tony continued, “We always want to give back to as many charities as we can and we also in turn try to give our customers the freshest produce and the best quality ingredients in all of our menu items, so it has that parallel connection that really got us intrigued with it in general plus, of course, kids are the future, our future. There are a lot of charities and non-profits to choose from and they all do great things, but we’ve got to choose just one, you can’t pick them all, so I usually like to go for the ones with the kids. Like I said, kids are the future and with all these kids with fatal diseases, they haven’t really had a chance to experience life so anything we can give back to help out we’re more than happy; it’s an honor to do so”.
The classic Negroni is based on equal parts of gin, red vermouth and Campari, an herbal, bitter liqueur with fruit overtones in it. In the description of the drink, it is generally classified as an apéritif, a drink that is enjoyed before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Jeff Baitx, The Blind Pig’s manager, feels very strongly about Negroni Week. Jeff said, “I love Negroni Week, I was actually just going through the list of all the bars and restaurants that are participating and there’s some heavy-hitters there that are working with us and that’s awesome. It creates knowledge for us about some of these great classic cocktails”.
The Blind Pig’s Mestizo Negroni is a creative version of the classic drink. Jeff said, “It’s a riff on the original Negroni, we kept the equal parts, we kept the spirit, the bitter and the sweet. Our bitter and sweet came in two forms, we have the Byrrh Quinquina which is kind of like a sweet vermouth but it has a little bit of bitters to it, sort of like a grape-raisiny taste to it,. Then there is the Calisaya, which is a bitter orange liqueur, which actually has a little more sweetness to it and it’s all organic. Then we kind of threw a curve in with the Capurro Pisco, so it is kind of like a Negroni with a little bit more sweetness to it, a little bit more vegetal, and instead of the botanical ‘punch’ from the traditional Negroni we gave it kind of a funky taste so you get that vegetal funk from the Pisco. This area is a hard one to get people to drink boozy, traditional drinks, so we’re slowly getting them into it with things like this”.
Jeff came up with the inspiration for the Blind Pig’s Negroni Week entry. “I actually created this for Negroni Week”, Jeff said. “I was driving down from San Francisco last weekend and thinking about it. I’d drank some pisco up there, had a couple good cocktails so that was my train of thought. I figured it out on the drive! I got in here at 3 o’clock after starting the drive at 7 in the morning and just threw everything together. I thought I might have to change some of the specs up but I wanted to stay true to the Negroni so I used one ounce, one ounce, one ounce, equal parts and it worked out well. Then we also have a grapefruit peel garnish on it and that opens things up and adds another little touch of bitter to it”.
The Mestizo Negroni, as Jeff calls it, is extremely smooth and extremely drinkable. The combination of specialty liqueurs provides for a drink that is not only smooth, but as is the purpose, leaves you ready for another one or for some delicious food. With innovative lunch and dinner menus featuring items such as bay scallop tostadas, bison burgers, a delicious beet salad. pickled peppers with a champagne sabayon and toast as well as many more items, Negroni Week will be an excellent time to go into The Blind Pig, have a Negroni or two while enjoying the ambience at the bar or catching the sunset from the deck over the lake and then enjoying some excellent food. Plus, during Negroni Week, you’ll get the good feeling that comes from helping a deserving local charity. Negroni Week is definitely a win-win on all accounts at The Blind Pig!
Negroni Week June 1-7 at
The Blind Pig
31431 Rancho Santa Margarita Parkway, Unit M
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688