What do you get when you cross Bradley Cooper’s Oscar-winning box office tearjerker A Star Is Born with a quintessentially Italian cocktail invented in Milan back in the late 20th century? MoM headed down to 45 Park Lane in Mayfair to find out…
We’ve got a bit of a two-in-one for you this week. It’s a twist on a twist on a classic. You could take the drink a step further by modifying the recipe at the bottom to craft a twist on a twist on a twist on a classic, but what you do in your own time is up to you.
We stumbled across this little number a couple of weeks ago, at Dorchester Collection’s contemporary Mayfair hotel, 45 Park Lane. The bar there is well-known for its knockout Negroni offering – there is even a trolley dedicated to the drink – so we were thrilled to attend Negroni Nights masterclass hosted by esteemed bar manager Francesco Orefici in honour of the drink’s 100-year anniversary.
“We are in the Seventies in Milan,” Campari Group brand ambassador Paolo Tonellotto announces as we take our seats. We’re no longer in a private room in Mayfair, but have instead been transported to Bar Basso, a Milanese institution. Bartender Mirko Stocchetto is making drinks, and a customer has approached the bar to order a Negroni. In goes the Campari, followed swiftly by vermouth. So far, so Italian.
“At that very moment, a blonde lady walks into the bar,” says Tonellotto, “she’s beautiful, everyone is staring at her. The bartender reaches for a bottle and starts pouring. At that very moment the customer turns around and says, ‘Ti stai sbagliando’ which means, ‘You are mistaken’. It was prosecco that he poured.”
“He says, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make another for you’,” Tonellotto continues. “The guy looks at him like, ‘by the time you do that, someone else will talk to that lady!’. So he takes the drink and off he goes to chat her up. Ten minutes later, the guy comes to the bar and says, ‘Can I have two sbagliato of yours?’. And that’s how the Sbagliato was born*.”
So, what inspired the 45 Park Lane team to put a twist on the twist? “We had a phone call from our lovely chef [David McIntyre, executive chef at Cut], who asked us to come up with a lovely drink ahead of the Oscars,” Orefici explains; “We know that one of his favourite drinks is the Negroni. He said he will be cooking for several celebrities, including Bradley Cooper – so instead of prosecco we used Champagne, to celebrate the awards.”
A lovely touch. Incidentally the name isn’t a sly dig at actors but a nod to the title song of A Star is Born, ‘Shallow’, sung by Lady GaGa and Cooper himself. So, what does it taste like? Compared to the Negroni, the Sbagliato – and, indeed, the Shallow Negroni – will be slightly sweeter, says Tonellotto, making it great introduction to the bitter classic for the uninitiated Negroni drinker.
“If you’re taking gin away, you’re taking a 40% alcohol out of the equation, as well as the only ingredient that has got no sugar whatsoever,” he says. “Instead it’s prosecco or Champagne, which have bubbles and residual sugar.”
If there was a cocktail version of the Academy Awards, this drink would absolutely clean up. The Shallow Negroni has to be the Best Adapted Screenplay we’ve ever tasted. Lanson Champagne is honoured with Best Supporting Actress. Orange wheel walks away with Best Visual Effects, no question.
Until the drinks Oscars takes off, you’ll either have to take our word for it or make one for yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, may we present to you: the Shallow Negroni…
Add ice to a Burgundy wine glass. Add Campari, Antica Formula, and top with approximately 30ml Lanson Champagne. Garnish with a wheel of freshly cut orange. With tears in your eyes, thank your mum, dad and family pet for their love and support.
For the London locals among you, the Negroni Nights experience is running bi-monthly until Thursday 2 May. Priced at £125 per person, it includes three cocktails – the Classic Negroni, Vintage Negroni and Seasonal Negroni – each paired with canapes created by David McIntyre. For more information or to make a booking email CUT.45L@dorchestercollection.com, call 020 7493 4545 or visit dorchestercollection.com.
*You have to remember that the Negroni Sbagliato was invented long before social media and Fake News. There was no such thing as @DHOTYA in the Seventies (‘Didn’t Happen Of The Year Awards’, for the Twitter-less among you). You have been told that a delicious drink was invented completely by accident, and that is the tale that will be told until the end of time.