From Melbourne with love: Negroni in a bottle

December 9, 2020
By Ioni Doherty

First it was their cult classic Gingerbread Gin and then their new release Apple Pie Gin, now The Craft & Co have released their ready-to-drink bottled Negroni. This Negroni sets itself apart from others as The Craft & Co have literally distilled each of the three key ingredients at their own distillery. The Melbourne based distillery handcrafted equal parts of their own award-winning gin, vermouth and amaro into this Northern Italian-style Negroni (where Paul Baggio’s family is originally from), showcasing incredible depth and complexity.

In a way, it was inevitable that with all the Italian influence that flows through The Craft & Co distillery, particularly with founder and master distiller Paul Baggio & distiller Paul Sanders each having Italian heritage, this creation was inevitable.

Paul Baggio spoke to Drinks Trade about the road to create this marvellous Batch One Negroni.

The work with the Negroni (Batch One), really started with the creation of the Amaro. The development of this Amaro has been of a labour of love for well over two years. A personal favourite drink of each distiller, but particularly for Paul Baggio who spent so much time working in Northern Italy. The push to create an Amaro was started in late 2017 and early 2018.

“We unashamedly focused to create an Amaro that respected the traditional Italian digestivo yet were conscious that we did not want to get too elitist with our creation. Yet, being Melbourne boys at heart we appreciated the subculture of fans of the beverage, and therefore wanted to create an Amaro that would be respected by the discerning aficionado – … some 120 single herb and fruit macerations and some 32 micro distillations later, we are very proud of the Amaro that we created,” said Baggio.

“So with the Amaro done, our Collingwood Dry Gin (an already award-winning local tipple), I would love to say stepping to the plate to make a Negroni would be just a formality. As traditionalists following in the footsteps of the great man, Conte Negroni himself, for us the bitters to be used was going to be our traditional Amaro. Many in Australia would comment that the more ‘red’ styled bitters is how they view the Negroni to be made, but for us the classic take was to use 1/3rd Gin (Collingwood Dry Gin), 1/3rd Amaro (The Craft & Co Amaro) and 1/3rd Vermouth…

“Making a vermouth interestingly did drive us to become crazy with all the forms of macerates. Try tasting wormwood as a single macerate! Yet it was the deep dive work we had invested ourselves through the Amaro build process that really paved the way. A number of core macerates and concentrated distillations were already in the flavour bank.

“This all said however it was the fortunate investment of purchasing some 110 ex-sherry oak barrels from the South West of Spain (for a side whiskey project. Watch this space!) that arrived with some flor’de madeira wine that enabled all the pieces to come together. Must say having some local 2017 Rose’ base, dashed with a mix of Viognier and Riesling dregs made for some fun times… yes may seem a bit luxurious but the proof is in the tasting as they say. As only my Nonna used to say, the recipe is only as good as the ingredients!  

“What we wanted to create was a finished single strength serve Negroni to blending all elements to arrive at a bottle strength that would enable the punter to be able to grab a classic tumbler, place a chunky sliced ‘fresh’ orange fill the glass with crushed ice and pour The Craft & Co Negroni straight into the glass ready to be enjoyed, was a big part of what Conte Negroni being the progressive he was, would have wished for back in the day!”

It’s an astute take on a classic cocktail the world has fallen in love with! All one need to do is pour over ice, add a slice of fresh orange or orange peel and “drift away”.

Size: 500ml, ABV: 16%, RRP: $60 

Retail: currently available from The Craft Co’s website and Dan Murphy’s.

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