GIF Tutorial: How to Cut a Citrus Garnish and Make a Negroni

PDT head bartender Jeff Bell shows us how to nail a classic cocktail.

  • Round 1, fight! Click through the gallery to get schooled in the art of the Negroni.
  • Cutting a citrus peel seems pretty easy, but there's still a difference between an amateur hack job and a pro peel. Bell says this is how NOT to do it. Can you see why?
  • Answer: If you can see some of the pulp from the fruit on the peel, that means juice will come out when you squeeze it and alter the character of the cocktail.
  • Here is a proper cut—the key is to get a sliver of peel without actually cutting into the fruit itself. Some folks will tell you to go even thinner because the pith has some bitterness to it, but Bell likes how a slightly more robust peel gives the garnish some structure.
  • You can use the segment as is, but Bell suggests trimming both sides to make it look prettier and accentuate the curvature. And isn't prettier curvature what we're all striving for?
  • Here's the whole process in three easy cuts.
  • Once your citrus is ready, set it aside and grab a mixing glass to make your cocktail. Start with one ounce of London dry gin. You'll notice that Bell builds the cocktail first before adding ice, thus avoiding unnecessary dilution along the way.
  • Next up: One ounce of sweet vermouth.
  • And finally, the star of the show, one ounce of Campari. "You can use the gin of your preference and the vermouth of your preference, but it's not a Negroni without Campari," says Bell. This recipe calls for equal parts of each ingredients, so to batch it just multiply each by the number of people you're serving.
  • Add ice to a stirring glass (or any large vessel), filling it about halfway to the top, then pour in the liquid and stir with a bar spoon for 20-30 seconds. Peep the technique: The spoon is placed on the inside of the glass and gently rotated, using only the wrist.
  • Pour into coupe glass using a strainer to catch the ice.
  • And finally, deploy your orange peel: Twist it over the top of the drink to squeeze out some aromatic oils, trace the waxy part of the skin around the rim of the glass, then drop it into the drink and serve.

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!

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