Shooters Waterfront: Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Negroni with a view; overlooking the inter-coastal waterway

Negroni with a view; overlooking the inter-coastal waterway

Befuddlement factor: 0
Presentation: 6
Drink: 7
Price: 

Shooters, well known to “spring breakers” and “partiers” decades ago for activities like wet T-shirt contests, has undergone a complete renovation and is now positioned as an high mid-end bar and dining destination.  It has a nice deck and open walls overlooking the inter-coastal waterway, making for nice viewing in a nice room.   It is also a stop on the inter-coastal water taxi, positioning as a watering hole before or after venturing out on the town.  No T-shirts however.

The bartender was fast, tired, but on his game; more than can be said for the kitchen staff (sorry for the diversion into dining reviews) who took much more than a reasonable amount of time to deliver; although we were perfectly happy to enjoy the view and negroni.  Served cold with a cherry; not what you ordinarily see; adds a slight unusual taste; not unpleasant however.  Solid performance, good view; why not?

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Barmini by Jose Andres: Washington, D.C.

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All aspect of the Negroni experience at barmini make this a Negroni World Pilgrimage Site!

All aspects of the Negroni experience at Barmini make this a must visit Negroni World Pilgrimage Site!

Befuddlement factor: 0
Presentation: 8
Drink: 9
Price: $14.00

Whether you are reading this review in Ghent or Pine Bluff, grab your passport and head out to Barmini by Jose Andres; as this is a Negroni experience you are not going to want to miss!

This cozy spot is small, contemporary in a very comfortable way; and loads of fun. You’ll get great service; including a small “welcome cocktail”.

Sit at the bar to watch the full show.  The mixology is serious; with the bartender spending a solid five minutes mixing, dropping samples on the back of his hand from a silver pipette to test; and when perfection is achieved; going through the whole process again, stirring to get just the right temperature.  I have yet to see this degree of care given in any other bar; and the result follows the effort.

I ordered the featured Mescal Negroni, which is composed of mescal, cunard, aperol and yzaguirre vermouth.  The bartender gave me a sample of the vermouth; which I highly recommend.  The Mescal Negroni itself is quite interesting with a smokey deep flavor which is worth trying, although I admit I prefer the classic on an on-going basis.

This is a spot worth going out of your way to experience; but make reservations; it is small and popular.

Waterlot Inn: Southampton, Bermuda

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Negronis do not match the general sophistication of the Waterlot Inn in Southampton

Negronis do not match the general sophistication of the Waterlot Inn in Southampton

Befuddlement factor: 2
Presentation: 3
Drink: 5
Price: $14.00

The Waterlot Inn is usually on the list of restaurants to be experienced by those seeking the elusive superior dining experience in Bermuda.   The room projects a quiet, almost too quiet, elegant feel.  Service is subdued, with experience and training obviously not being a hiring criteria, as we got the classic “negroni?” response from the waitperson.

The drink failed to match the ambiance of the room; a little light on the Campari; with the bartender obviously too exhausted to be able to muster a shake or stir.  After this visit you will be able to safely resume your search for an excellent Negroni in Bermuda.

Blue Bar, Algonquin Hotel: New York City

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Blue Bar rockets to the top of Negroni establishment in terms of price; not execution

Blue Bar rockets to the top of Negroni establishments in terms of price; not execution

Price: $22.00

If you are looking for an expensive Negroni, look no farther than the Blue Bar in New York’s Algonquin Hotel.  While the Blue Bar touts an extraordinary ambiance; it wasn’t obvious where exactly that was; nice bar, but nothing to compared to others reviewed in this blog.  Although the service was fast and courteous; the boys spent most of their time watching the soccer game.  And the Negroni itself was in the middle of the pack.

Doesn’t warrant a full review; tourist trap!

Erbaluce: Boston, MA

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Although well presented; the first try at a Negroni yielded a cocktail of unknown ilk

Although well presented; the first try at a Negroni yielded a cocktail of unknown ilk

After delivering a Negroni briefing; the second try was quite good

After delivering a Negroni briefing; the second try was quite good

Befuddlement factor: 4
Presentation: 3
Drink: 8
Price: $11.00

If you’re heading to the theater district to see a questionable performance, a bracing Negroni is an appropriate precaution.  Erbaluce is an attractive room within easy walking distance of Boston’s theater district, providing a welcome alternative to some of the high volume soulless options that feed off their theater proximity.

Service is fast and thoughtful, with an eye toward ensuring you’re in your seat before the curtain rises.

Negroni aficionados with a sense of adventure and humor may enjoy the fact that a reasonable number of waitstaff and bartenders around the world don’t know what a Negroni is.  The entertainment part comes in seeing what strategy they employ when presented with your request.  I’ll dive into that topic in a separate entry, as it requires explaining the Befuddlement factor in my Negroni Evaluation Index(TM).

In the case of Erbaluce, my first order yielded a drink of unknown composition; not even close; and although not terrible; not particularly interesting either – whatever it was.   When brought to the attention of the waitstaff it was explained that this is how they prepare their Negronis 🙂

After delivering a briefing on the classical Negroni recipe a replacement drink arrived quickly which was actually quite good; as evidenced by the score.  The Befuddlement Index might be lower than expected; as it is not clear if a wrong drink was delivered or if this was a case of well covered befuddlement.

Central Michel Richard: Washington, D.C.

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Central's tasty Negroni is  presented in a contemporary glass with an elegant corkscrew garnish

Central’s tasty Negroni is presented in a contemporary glass with an elegant corkscrew garnish

Befuddlement factor: 0
Presentation: 6
Drink: 8
Price: $9.00

Central Michel Richard, a favorite of lobbyists, legislators and young professionals alike,serves up a tasty Negroni in the heart of Pennsylvania Avenue near the Justice Department. A contemporary room with soaring ceilings makes for a pleasant setting. Fast pleasant service complements a good bar tending staff.

The drink, as you might imagine, is served in a contemporary glass, with a nice corkscrew garnish. The drink itself is notably above average; with a pleasant powerful but balanced taste. For downtown DC the price is attractive too; making this a stop that is recommended if you are in the area.

Solea: Waltham, MA

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Solea's Negroni ordered straight up is shaken and poured into a classic glass; no garnish

Solea’s Negroni ordered straight up is shaken and poured into a classic glass; no garnish

Befuddlement factor: 0
Presentation: 6
Drink: 5
Price: $8.56

Waltham, MA, USA, formerly the watch making capital of the US, now caters both to the entrepreneur/venture capital set and a diverse immigrant community.  Low rents have attracted a wide variety of interesting restaurants, so after a hard day of wooing VC’s, try a Negroni at Solea, a thriving Tapas restaurant with a nice contemporary ambiance.

We got excellent, knowledgeable service.  Unlike some establishments, we were asked whether we preferred our Negroni up or on the rocks; point.  The drink was well shaken; cold and poured nicely in a classic glass.  Unfortunately the experience was degraded by the fact that the Negroni was serviced without a garnish, and there was a noticeably harsh edge to the drink; likely from an inferior Gin (note: to ensure our ratings are fair we always allow the house to select the liquor brands).

Palmer House: Chicago, IL

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Palmer House Chicago 2014 negroni

Befuddlement factor: 1
Presentation: 3
Drink: 6
Price: $13.50

After a long day flipping ppts in the financial district or jostling through Chicago Bean crowds, proximity and elegance are strong draws to the bar at the Palmer House.

Clearly the old world elegance of the bar is the major draw, although surprisingly, or perhaps not, the people watching isn’t particularly interesting. Tourists and event guests – no beautiful people!

Service is adequate; not particularly fast or personal.  Unlike the room, the presentation of your drink will not be elegant; basic glass with the most basic of garnishes.  Mismatch!  However given the ambiance, typical hotel pricing, and solid execution by the bartender, the $13.50 price is attractive.

Ascots: Hamilton, Bermuda

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Ascots Negroni in Hamilton Bermuda served in dimpled glass with very basic garnish

Ascots Negroni in Hamilton Bermuda served in dimpled glass with very basic garnish

Befuddlement factor: 0:
Presentation: 4
Drink: 5
Price: $10.75

After a hot day at the beach, it might seem a bit much to unearth the location of Ascots in order to satisfy your primal Negroni needs. However nestled off a narrow residential road leading up the hill from the Fairmont Princess in Hamilton, Bermuda, you’ll find the peaceful gem that is Ascots.

You’ll enjoy your Negroni in a large, airy, quiet contemporary room. Fast efficient, somewhat programmatic service will deliver a contemporary twist on the classic glass; garnished unimaginatively with a straight wedge. Although you’ll have to do your own mixing; at $10.75 this is a deal you will not want to miss!