Stanley Tucci Is A Wonderful Actor But Please I Beg You Do Not Shake Your Negroni

Stanley Tucci Is A Wonderful Actor But Please I Beg You Do Not Shake Your Negroni

Let’s begin with the universally acknowledged fact that Stanley Tucci is a marvelous actor. In “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Big Night”, and “Spotlight”, his performances are excellent. That being said, his bar technique when it comes to the creation of a classic boozy drink, shared with the Internet recently and receiving millions of views, leaves much to be desired.

In the video, Tucci goes about making a Negroni – my favorite cocktail – with all the charisma and gusto he is known for in front of the camera. Yet his step-by-step tutorial is lacking, and his proclaimed love for the drink was not reflected by his ability to actually make it.

All cocktails can be tweaked and altered in a varying degree of ways. But the perfection of the Negroni, a classic Milanese drink with mysterious origins and a perfect balance of aromatics, bitterness, and boozy warmth, leaves little room for deviation.

Tucci begins his litany of cocktail building foibles almost immediately by instructing viewers to pour a “double-shot” of gin into a cocktail shaker. “Lace it with gin” he says, and he does. A double shot, by the book, is three ounces of hooch. Keep in mind: We’re already talking about a massive cocktail – all the ingredients here are alcoholic. Putting that amount of gin in right off the bat throws everything else off.

The second and more egregious problem with this instruction, however, is that the heart of a Negroni lies in the perfect balance of ingredients. With only “single-shots” of sweet vermouth and Campari in Tucci’s viral recipe, he has already nuked the drink with a massive overload of gin.

Tucci avoids catastrophic missteps in the next steps, but doesn’t name his specialty sweet vermouth, only instructing his followers not to use “Martini” – by which he assuredly means the low-end “Martini & Rossi,” popular in forgettable bars the world over.

Once the cocktail and ice are assembled in the shaker, everything goes terribly wrong.

Tucci shakes the drink – not just a circular “gently stir the aromatic drink with the ice” shake, either. He bruises the Negroni to death, yielding a cloudy, frozen, dead soldier of a cocktail, much more to do with ice and gin well-crafted drink. Shaking a drink that contains no juice and no sugar – where did Tucci learn this barbaric method?

Tucci jokes about orange slices coming pre-sliced, and then instructs viewers to smash said wedge with your fingers dribbling juice into the drink. A much better garnish would have been just the zest, twisted over the drink. He then teases his patient wife/camerawoman, Felicity, while taking a big ole sip of this iced gin/orange drink.

Tucci did manage to get a few things right. His choice of ingredients was spot on, though he declined to name them. He used Plymouth gin, a classic dry style with vibrant aromatics, perfect for cocktails. His vermouth choice, Carpano Antica Formula, is favored by most craft bartenders, and Campari is Campari – accept no substitutes.

The Negroni is simple: It’s equal parts of each ingredient. The amounts can differ, but the ratio must remain the same. Start with 1 ½ ounces of each spirit, built into a glass stirring vessel or shaker. Pour ice gently onto the spirits and stir with a bar spoon for one minute. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass, and garnish with an orange swath or, if you must, an orange wedge.

Anything else might taste good, but it definitely isn’t a proper Negroni.

Ben Domenech is the publisher of The Federalist. Sign up for a free trial of his daily newsletter, The Transom.
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