After making a musky splash at last year's Negroni Social, mixilogist Douglas Derrick's amphora-aged negroni is back and currently available at Ava Gene's. Even if you'd thought you'd heard it all when Clyde Common's barrel-aged negroni came out in 2010, you may want to give Ava Gene's Aged Negroni a shot. Derrick fills each amphora with a negroni cocktail (equal parts Beefeater Gin, Cinzano, and Campari) and buries it for six weeks, mainly to oxidize the Cinzano sweet vermouth. The effects are a creamy mouthfeel, more integrated flavors, and for some, a muskiness or earthiness.
Derrick told Eater that the key to a great negroni is adding the right amount of water and/or ice to balance the three potent ingredients of gin, sweet vermouth, and bitters. "The well-known Roman bartender Antonio ParlapianoI once told me that the perfect negroni should be just like you when you get off from work," he said. "The first sip should be a little feisty, but after 30 minutes, it should mellow out." After sitting on ice for the appropriate amount of time, Ava Gene's Aged Negroni is served up with a twist.
Derrick teamed up with Sherwood's Beckham Estate Vineyard, which currently produces amphora-aged wines, to make the $12 Aged Negroni. After experimenting with amphorae with different levels of porousness and various aging periods, he's settled on a formula, and the Aged Negroni is now a regular feature at Ava Gene's.
That said, he opened his first amphora three days ago, and this batch probably won't last longer than another week.
And of course, once you go amphora you never go back, and Derrick has an amphora-aged bitters and other concoctions in the works.