As Negroni Week kicks off, 303 Magazine’s Food + Booze Editors set out on a quest to find Denver’s best iterations of the classic cocktail around town. While there are many restaurants and bars participating in the boozy week for a good cause, these selections stood out as some of the best.
Negroni Week lasts from today, June 6 through June 12. Each of the 36 participating Denver locations donates proceeds to charitable causes of their choice.
Best Presentation: The Nickel
While you can sip on a Negroni at just about any bar worth their salt around town, the presentation can add a little extra charm to the classic cocktail. The Nickel typically serves its Negronis on tap, but the barrel-aged cocktail comes to guests in a wooden caddy for a pour-your-own experience. A small carafe is filled with the mixed spirits alongside a glass with a crystalline sphere of ice. This allows guests the opportunity to pour and sip as they desire without watering down the cocktail.
Bonus: The Nickel is also offering a Negroni dessert if you want to finish the experience on a sweet note. And if you’re eating or drinking for a cause, $1 from each sale of the cocktail or dessert benefits the American Cancer Society.
Best Barrel-Aged Negroni: Green Russell
The Green Russell is no stranger to Negronis. Last year, Adam Hodak and the bar team at the Larimer Square speakeasy barrel-aged 53 gallons of Negroni, setting a world record. After the barrel poured its last cocktail, they filled it with 135 pounds of coffee beans from Pablo’s Coffee to produce the first ever Negroni aged coffee bean.
This year, Green Russell is using those coffee beans to make a cold brewed coffee used in its Negroni Romano cocktail, which benefits Water For People. The Negroni Romano balances the traditional recipe of gin, campari and sweet vermouth with the smoky bitterness of cold brewed coffee. This iteration of the classic cocktail will get your buzz going in more than one way.
Best Not-a-Negroni: New Belgium Brewing Company
Leave it to the masterminds at New Belgium Brewing Company to brew a Negroni beer. Helmed by Lauren Salazar, the company’s specialty brand manager and wood cellar blender, the unique brew incorporates thirty ingredients to recreate the flavor profile of the classic cocktail. The beer uses their seasonal blackberry barleywine infused with medium oak spiral to embody the taste of vermouth, and a variety of herbs, fruits and spices to mimic the botanical notes of gin and bitterness of Campari.
Served with an orange twist, the blood red beer looks and tastes like a carbonated Negroni. Not enough time to make the drive to New Belgium’s taproom in Fort Collins? Luckily for Denver drinkers, RiNo Yacht Club in the Source is one of two locations in Colorado that received a keg for Negroni Week.
Best Traditional Negroni: Acorn
The cocktail program at Acorn is second to none when it comes to inventive twists on classics and beautiful presentations. However, there’s nothing like having a traditional Negroni executed with expertise from bar manager Chris Clewell. The Acorn Negroni uses 1.5 ounces Beefeater Gin, 1 ounce Martini & Rossi Gran Lusso Vermouth, and 1 ounce Campari. The stirred cocktail is served over a large rock that is hand carved from a large slab.
If you want to try Clewell’s riff on the cocktail, they’re offering the Nitro Negroni. This version uses 1.5 ounces Hendrick’s Gin, 1.5 ounces Dolin Rouge Vermouth, and .5 ounce Campari. The slightly floral version is served up and nitrocharged, giving it a soft mouthfeel with a little fizz. Proceeds from Negroni sales this week benefit Food Bank of the Rockies.
Best Night Cap: White Whale Room
Since opening in March, the White Whale Room has made waves with its commuter-focused, coffee-to-cocktail service. Situated just steps from the Alameda Light Rail Station, it’s the perfect place to unwind with a nightcap after a day of work.
Serving up three classic deviations and three variations of the classic cocktail, it’s also an ideal spot to celebrate Negroni Week. Purists should stick to the O.G. Negroni, while those seeking something a little different should check out No 1—Chai-infused Scotch, banana liqueur, sweet vermouth and bitters—and No 2, a combination of rye whiskey, amaro, Benedictine and cold brew coffee. $1 of each cocktail sold goes to the Mercy Corps.