Drink for a Cause
Celebrate Negroni Week with the team behind Juniper and Nickel City
by Hannah J. Phillips
Photographs by Holly Cowart
If you’ve never tried a negroni, you’re missing out on one of the most important cocktails ever, says Travis Tober of Nickel City. “It’s the one classic drink that 99% of bartenders know how to make, and yet it’s super complex in its simplicity.”
Made of equal parts Campari, gin and vermouth, the concoction is attributed to an Italian Count Negroni in 1919 but has become especially popular over the last decade. With just three simple ingredients, the drink is both widely available and extremely versatile, making for a great go-to cocktail when sampling the bar menu at a new restaurant.
“Almost any bar is going to have those three ingredients,” says Chef Nic Yanes of Juniper, who recently partnered with Travis to open Uncle Nicky’s café in Hyde Park. Chef Nic has always featured a negroni on the menu at Juniper, though he’s tweaked the recipe here and there. “You can work with different types of gin and vermouth,” he warns, “but don’t miss Campari.”
Juniper’s variation is called the “Chef’s Brand New Cadillac Negroni,” referencing the dark red Barolo Chinato vermouth. The bar program’s large, slow-melting ice blocks stave off dilution, allowing both the vermouth and the floral Botanist gin to remain balanced with every sip.
“What makes the negroni beautiful is how it evolves and changes as you drink,” he says. “Each ingredient is awesome by itself, but the negroni takes three totally different things and they all shine in one beautiful drink.”
Tober has been responsible for organizing Austin’s Negroni Week festivities for the past several years. In addition to Nickel City and Juniper’s individual participation this year, both Chef Yanes and Tober are excited to host Austin’s kick-off party at Uncle Nicky’s on June 24 from 3-6pm. The event will feature a negroni sorbet and negroni fountain, and the bar will use barrel-aged Campari for five different negroni variants all week long. With $1 from all negronis at participating bars going to great charities across Austin, it’s a great week to sip for a cause.
Negroni Week takes place from June 24-30. For more participating bars and restaurants, check out “Venues” at negroniweek.com.