Alexander Kraft has forever been a devoted acolyte of the Order of Negronis, a devout group of global Dionysians who delight in this most simple yet significant of drinks. Having genuflected at the alter of Negroni for a good many years, it seemed only natural that Alexander would create his own tribute to a libation that has come to signify class, good taste, and fine living. And so it is with much pleasure that we release the ‘Kraftoni’, made in partnership with the quite excellent 44°N gin, distilled only a stone’s throw away in Grasse. Combining the gin, Campari and Carpano Classico in accordance with Alexander’s preference, the Kraftoni is an exceptional tribute to this most-loved of classic cocktails, and is available in small bottles specifically designed for picnics, road trips and impromptu knees-ups!
“My adoration for the negroni has been undimmed ever since the drink first passed my lips many years ago! It is my good friend and bon vivant Matt Hranek, founder of Wm Brown magazine, who is largely for responsible for bringing the negroni back into the global consciousness thanks to his amazing book, The Negroni: A Love Affair with a Classic Cocktail, and which inspired me to create my own version in tribute of this simple yet magnificent drink.”
What makes the Kraftoni truly unique is the use of 44°N gin. Distilled in Grasse, the epicentre of fragrance production in the South of France, the combination of botanicals used to create the gin is quite extraordinary. 44°N gin brings zingy top notes of lemon zest, grapefruit and mimosa, with an intense floral body of Grasse’s rose centifolia and jasmine. Jammy accents of bitter orange are countered by the herbaceous punch of angelica and samphire, rounded off with hints of warm pepper, before the warm notes of juniper, iris and honey dance with the bitter sweetness of the Campari and Carpano Classico.
A Brief History of the Negroni
To speak of the negroni’s history is to first speak of the Milano-Torino, aka the ‘Mi-To’, which dates back to around 1860 and is a combination of Campari and Punt e Mes. Hats off to Gaspare Campari who invented the Mi-To and without whom we wouldn’t have the negroni. The Mi-To was named as such because Punt e Mes used to come from Turin and Campari from Milan. Interestingly, a Mi-To made today is probably closer in taste to the negronis of old when Campari used to be made from crushed up cochineal. From the Mi-To came the Americano, the first cocktail mentioned in Ian Fleming’s Bond novels. Again, created at Gaspare Campari’s bar in Milan, it has the addition of a spritz of soda water, and it takes its name from the popularity it found among American tourists.
And so to the negroni, the origin of which is largely thought to have been Florence in 1919 at Caffè Casoni (then called Caffè Giacosa), on Via de’ Tornabuoni. As the story goes, one Pascal Olivier Count de Negroni first concocted it by asking the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to fortitfy an Americano with the addition of gin rather than the soda water. Scarselli took the creative liberty of adding an orange slice rather than the usual lemon garnish of the Americano to differentiate the two drinks. To say it went down a treat with the Count is an understatement. He took no time in founding the Negroni Distillerie in Treviso later that year, producing a ready-mixed version called an Antico Negroni (the forefather of the Kraftoni!).
Since then, the negroni has come to epitomise a classy drink best enjoyed under the warm gaze of the Mediterranean sun. Orson Welles – who knew his way around a bar – famously wrote about the drink in correspondence with the Coshocton Tribune while working in Rome in 1947: “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” More recently, the negroni has seen a great revival at Pitti Uomo, the menswear fair in Florence, where the fashion and style pack gather at Caffè Gilli and drink down their collective weight.
We think you’ll find the Kraftoni to be more than a fitting tribute to this most iconic of drinks and a wonderful libation to take with you while travelling, assured in the knowledge that wherever you are in the world, you need only find a glass, some ice, and a slice of orange to be able to kick back and luxuriate in the warming glow of cocktail history.