The Negroni Sbagliato Gets Its Moment in the LimelightPhoto by Aleisha Kalina/Unsplash Drink Features cocktails
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s happened. The cocktail tides have shifted. As our memories of summer fade, it’s time for the dirty martini, the Aperol spritz, the dirty Shirley to return to the shadows. Don’t even talk to me about espresso martinis. Negronis are already used to seeing a boost in popularity during the fall months due to the growing popularity of Negroni week; according to AI food and beverage trend tracking from Tastewise, negronis saw a precipitous rise in popularity in September 2021.
But this year, Negroni week has already come and gone with much fanfare for bar-goers and Campari-lovers. But now, thanks to a certain viral TikTok video, a riff on the bitter, juicy classic is about to inundate bartenders everywhere: the negroni sbagliato.
What is a negroni sbagliato, you ask? Instead of the usual equal parts sweet vermouth, Campari and gin, the negroni sbagliato nixes the gin and instead includes a dry sparkling wine, often Prosecco. The result is almost but not quite spritz-like (with more alcohol and bitterness, of course, than a typical spritz). “Sbagliato” is Italian for “broken” or “wrong,” and the drink apparently got its name when a bartender at Bar Basso in Milan mistook a bottle of Prosecco for a bottle of gin. He added the Prosecco to the cocktail, resulting in the “broken” negroni. Luckily, it was a happy mistake: The negroni sbagliato has now cemented itself as a worthy variation on the classic.
The cocktail certainly has a glamorous feel to it, offering all the sophistication of a negroni with the fun and lightheartedness of Prosecco, which is probably why it’s enjoyed a low hum of mild popularity over the last several years. But all hell broke loose for the negroni sbagliato when HBO Max posted a video of House of the Dragon stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke discussing their favorite drinks during an interview. When asked, D’Arcy replied, “A negroni… sbagliato. With Prosecco in it.” They say this with a charmingly flirtatious countenance that (mostly queer) TikTok users are finding… alluring, to say the least.
If you’re on negroni sbagliato-tok, chances are D’Arcy’s phrase has been running through your head for the past three days non-stop. It’s only a matter of time before bartenders everywhere are inundated with requests for negroni sbagliatos with Prosecco in it. If you do decide to order this drink, keep in mind that you don’t actually have to ask for the Prosecco; a negroni sbagliato is literally a negroni with Prosecco, and the bartender should be familiar with what you’re asking for. In fact, the bartender is probably on their way to being far, far too familiar with what you’re asking for.
Alternatively, if you are ashamed, as I am, to approach a bartender with such a request, you can easily make a negroni sbagliato at home as long as you have that Campari, sweet vermouth, and Prosecco (or other dry sparkling wine) on hand. Since you’ll be using equal parts of all these ingredients, it’s pretty easy to throw together if you have a bottle open.
Admittedly, for me, this is not the first time I’ve been influenced by the media to alter my negroni order. Netflix’s Dating Around Season 2 featured R&B singer Deva Mahal, who ordered a mezcal white negroni on one of her dates. That’s classy, I thought. There are seemingly a few variations on this cocktail, but according to Punch, it contains equal parts gin, mezcal and Salers aperitif (though some use Suze instead).
Luckily, Dating Around seemed limited in its popularity, so nobody ever called me out for ordering it, but I have a feeling that the negroni sbagliato will not receive the same grace. But who cares? Prepare yourself for the likelihood that the bartender will roll their eyes at you, and indulge in this simple but elegant wine-based cocktail. Regardless of your go-to cocktail order, though, can we all leave this dirty Shirley business in the past now? Please?
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.