Hopefully, you are reading this from a dry house, surrounded by loaves of sandwich bread and flashlight batteries you didn’t have to use because Hurricane Sally did not decimate us. (I am writing this on Monday as the storm inches closer, texting my boyfriend, Gabe, to please buy loaves of sandwich bread and flashlight batteries.) If you’re safe and still have internet, commandeer your child’s school-issued Chromebook because this week an international cocktail event has gone digital and is free and open to the public, for the first time ever.
Negroni Week (Sept. 14-20) was launched by Campari and Imbibe Magazine in 2013 as a way to raise money for charity and promote an Italian cocktail that happens to prominently feature Campari. In typical years bars and restaurants around the world — 12,000 venues participated last year — offer unique riffs on the drink and donate a portion of profits to charities like No Kid Hungry. (I should probably ask Gabe to get propane, too.)
Because of COVID-19, Negroni Week changed its format. This year it’s digital-only and organizers have partnered with Portland Cocktail Week (a conference in Oregon) to offer free online classes every night on a range of Negroni-related topics. You’ll be able to learn about the cocktail’s history, variations and tips and tricks for at-home bartending from leaders in the bar industry without leaving home. And all of the money raised will go directly to support workers in the hospitality industry, who desperately need all the financial injections they can get. (Cash. I don’t have cash! I need to text Gabe again.)
The event kicked off on Monday and continues tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 16, through Friday, Sept. 18. The classes take place via Zoom or Facebook Live and are free, but donations are encouraged. Visit NegroniWeek.com for links to the individual digital events and fundraising pages. The schedule is as follows:
* Wednesday, 4-5 p.m. (CT): Negronis of the Future. “Beyond the world of dark and light, stirred and spritzed, there is a land of bizarre, creative and unconventional Negronis just waiting to delight us. In this session, we talk to some of the most creative drink thinkers for their insights into what’s next in the world of Negronis.”
* Wednesday, 6-7 p.m.: Of Negronis and Barrels: Boulevardiers and Beyond. “Gin is lovely in a Negroni, but have you ever explored the aged spirit branches of the Negroni Family Tree? In this session, we dive into the dark and stirred Negroni variations and how the Negroni framework is well suited to brown spirits and stirred cocktails. If you love whisk(e)y, cognac or rum, then this is the class for you!”
* Thursday, 1-2 p.m.: Vermouth: The Other Equal Part. “Vermouth is often the least considered ingredient in a Negroni, but the right vermouth can make or break your cocktail. Learn the differences amongst vermouths and how each one will help your Negroni (or variation) tell a different story.”
* Thursday, 4-6 p.m.: Learning to Love Bitter. “Campari’s Daniel Warrilow talks with author and journalist Brad Thomas Parsons about the evolution of his palette, falling in love with all things Campari and Amari, and his thoughts on the perfect Negroni.”
* Thursday, 6-7 p.m.: Bitter Meets Bubbles: Discover the Negroni’s Lighter Side. “Bitter and bubbles are a match made in heaven. In this session, we will explore the magic of light, fizzy and low-ABV cocktails. The Negroni is the perfect blueprint for elegant aperitivo moments. Come learn how to make something just in time for sunset.”
* Friday, 4-5 p.m.: Deep Aperitivo. “Negronis + food = always a good idea. In this session we will explore deep into the key Italian flavors and how to effectively and impactfully pair Negronis with food. We will learn from sensory experts about how to think about flavor, geography, terroir and culture to create perfect pairings with the classic Negroni and variations.”
* Friday, 6-7 p.m.: Aperitivo Like A Pro. “Negronis aren’t just a cocktail — they are the key to the perfect aperitivo. We talk with an award-winning chef, a celebrated food and drink writer and a nationally renowned mixologist and cocktail book author about entertaining with Negronis and how to plan the perfect aperitivo party.”
So, stir up a Negroni, tune in and chow down on a dry bread sandwich because Negroni Week is expected to return to its original format in 2021. Another major cocktail conference, New Orleans’s Tales of the Cocktail, will also be digital-only this year and takes place next week, Sept. 21-24. You can register for that virtual event and see the full online schedule at TalesoftheCocktail.org. (Is the liquor store still open? I better ask Gabe what he wants and make a run for it!)
Alyson Sheppard is Lagniappe’s resident hangover specialist and Boozie’s most unreliable Midtown spy. Find her on Twitter: @amshep.
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