Bitter and sweet, drinks and memories

The first time I tried a Negroni, I almost immediately spit it out like a geyser of blood orange colored booze.

It was worse than the mouthful of CK One I accidentally sprayed myself with in seventh grade. Worse than the bar of soap my grandma shoved in my mouth as a kid. (Because yes, old school grandmothers used to do that to foul-mouthed children.) Worse than the Tylenol I bit into, thinking it was a mint.

It was horrendous, an assault on my taste buds.

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Never thought I’d be excited about a frozen Negroni

Now every time I order one, something that happens way more than I might have ever thought based on that first sip, I think of that night, and how I almost lost all my cool points in front of the Italians I was drinking with, all of them casually, painlessly sipping away at their Negronis.

It took years— it’s been ten since that first stolen sip— but I finally came around. Maybe due to a changing palette or perhaps out of nostalgia for a special time and place in my life, or maybe even because the older I get, the more I appreciate a drink that almost forces me to drink it slowly instead of guzzling it down.

And a good Negroni, with its all-booze-no-mixer blend of Campari, vermouth and gin, all colorful and dolled up with a twist of orange peel, exciting and alluring, a little floral and herbal, bitter yet bright, pretty much demands to be drank slowly.

On a recent humid, sticky afternoon in Brooklyn, reminiscent of so many equally swampy summer afternoons spent in AC-aversed Italy, a frozen Negroni was the obvious choice for me. With frost on its little coupe cocktail glass, and more of a dusty red-orange than the candy colored original, the frozen counterpart was a cute, chilly play on the classic. In the blazing heat of our windowside corner at One Bedford in Williamsburg, it didn’t stay frozen for long, quickly melting into a clear, orangey red.

I knocked it down in a few gulps, remembering a time when a tiny sip had tasted so different.

A cold treat for a lazy day

If you ask me, it was hot as blazes today. Hot in an I’m-feeling-so-lazy-that-even-though-I-have-the-day-off-I-can’t-really-fathom-doing-anything-that-doesn’t-involve-my-ass-and-the-couch-being-in-contact kind of way. I purposely went to the gym first thing in the morning so the rest of the day would be open for lots of day-off activities and yet… well, nothing. All I managed to do, early in the afternoon, was walk over to Chelsea Market (a whole 10 minutes away) with a friend.

A damn fine way to beat the heat: an Affogato all'arancia

While I was there, though, I had the perfect half dessert-half drink pictured here, an affogato all’arancia from L’Arte del Gelato. It kind of just looks like a glass of OJ, and my crap-camera didn’t do much for the cause, but really it was a delicious pick-me-up, perfect for the day’s muggy weather. While a traditional affogato features vanilla ice cream drowned (cause that’s what affogato means) in espresso,  this citrusy take on it involved lemon sorbet, fresh squeezed orange juice and a touch of Campari, with a lemon slice and a bit of mint leaves for a refreshing garnish.

It was bright, crisp and flavorfu, and probably the highlight of my day. So what if there wasn’t much else going on? A good frosty treat on a hot day is enough for me.