No one will argue that the Negroni is a classic cocktail.
But before there was the Negroni, there was the Americano—and before that came the Milano Torino. A Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth; the Americano substitutes soda water for gin. Dating back to the 1860s, the Milano Torino is an even simpler mix of Campari and Punt e Mes.
Most recently, the Milano Torino turned up on the new 70s Summer Lovin’ cocktail menu at The Raymond 1886 in Pasadena, California. The drink is a favorite libation of head barman Jesus Gomez. The cocktail, he says, should definitely be considered a classic.
The progression of Campari cocktails from the Milano Torino to the Americano to the Negroni dates back to Gaspare Campari, who invented the Milano Torino in the 1860s. The drink was named as such because Punt e Mes used to come from Turin (Torino) and Campari from Milan. “It became popular in the 1870s,” Gomez says. “Camillo Negroni, between 1919 and 1920, asked for his Americano to be switched from soda water to gin. People then asked, can I get my Americano the Negroni way?”
The Milano Torino is a low-proof cocktail, and Gomez’s recipe calls for equal parts Punt e Mes and Campari, along with dashes of Angostura and orange bitters. The original recipe didn’t use bitters, so it’s his personal, modern touch.
“We don’t have the same ingredients as back in the day and, to be honest, I was really scared the first time I heard about this cocktail because it had Punt e Mes, which is really bitter on its own,” Gomez says. “When I’m lazy at home and I want something quick, I just put Punt e Mes on ice and it’s perfect. But it’s really bitter and then you add Campari to it [for the Milano Torino]. So I thought, it’s probably not going to work. But it’s a classic and they knew what they were doing, so I gave it a try. And I think having two bitter components creates that perfect balance somehow.”
Because Campari used to be made by crushing up cochineal insects for its signature bright red color, the taste is different today than it was decades ago. And according to Gomez, the modern day Negroni is bitter for that reason. “Vintage gin, vintage Campari and vintage vermouth had the perfect balance,” he says. “The Milano Torino tastes as close as you can get to a vintage Negroni.”
The Milano Torino offers a slightly more bitter and syrupy flavor than the Negroni. It has less bite and because it’s low ABV, you can drink more of them and feel less tipsy. As an equal parts cocktail, like the Negroni, this tipple is simple to make at home.
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. Punt e Mes
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters (Optional)
- 1 dash Orange Bitters (Optional)
- Orange Slice (to Garnish)
Preparation: Add the liquid ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange slice.