Photo and GIFs by Liz Barclay

Welcome back to the First We Feast GIF Tutorial series, where we ask restaurant cooks and pro bartenders to show us how step up our technique when cooking and making drinks at home. This week, in celebration of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic storming NYC, we hit up pro drink slinger Jeff Bell—head bartender at PDT in the East Village—to get some tips on stepping up our at-home cocktail game.

To kick things off, Bell breaks us off here with a two-part primer: how to cut a proper citrus peel, a skill you’ll need for countless cocktail variations, followed by the steps to building an ace Negroni.

The Negroni is an untouchables of the classic-cocktail canon—one of the few great mixed drinks to come out of the Italy, and a love letter to the bitter joys of Campari. It’s also a tremendous study in balance, both in terms of its tight-rope walk of bitter and sweet flavors, as well as what it does to your body—as Orson Welles once said, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” No need to consult the scientists on that one; it’s a great quote, so just drop it casually when you serve this drink to your friends and they’ll nod in agreement. Though it’s strong and stirred, it’s a fine summer drink, with a refreshingly dry finish and a nice hit of citrus.

A note on the recipe: Some modern variants amp up the gin to dial back the bitterness a bit, but Bell goes for a more traditional, satisfyingly bracing equal-parts build. You are a traditionalist, aren’t you? Check out the recipe below, then click through the gallery above to see Bell demonstrate each step of the process.

PDT Negroni recipe

* 1 ounce London dry gin
* 1 ounce sweet vermouth
* 1 ounce Campari

Stir with ice for 20-30 seconds. Strain into coupe glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Check back tomorrow at 10am for Part II, when Bell will demonstrate how to make the perfect Old-Fashioned.  Cheers!