There was bad news last week for aperitivo-loving bigots, as the self-styled “people’s news channel” GB News declared the negroni the signature drink of the “woke… establishment media” – something that would probably surprise the 19th-century Corsican count and decorated cavalry officer credited with its creation. But I doubt this ruby-red cocktail, apparently a favourite of David and Samantha Cameron, is only popular with the socially aware: these days everyone is drinking them… apart from, it seems, the handful of people watching GB News.
And that’s fine – one should only drink what one enjoys, and for a long time the British did not share the Italian enthusiasm for bitter tipples. Indeed I suspect that this was part of the negroni’s appeal; hipsters of any political persuasion love to embrace the underdog, to show off their superior taste by leaning into flavours others find difficult: in this case, the uncompromisingly herbal hit of Campari. Barely a decade ago, Victoria Moore could write that “negroni drinkers are like a secret Masonic sect, so proud of their affiliation that when they mention it by name, a certain knowing look, recognised only by other negroni drinkers, darts across their faces”. By 2021 you could buy negroni-branded T-shirts from M&S, a clear sign that fashion had already moved on, even if no one had bothered to tell the folks on channel 236.