Grown-up cocktails return for the autumn - and this twist on an Italian classic is a must.
As our nights get colder, it is time to say farewell to the flippant fruity drinks of summer and welcome back some serious grown-up cocktails. The classic Italian negroni is, to my mind, the king of them all. It is a warming cocktail, a cosseter, a starter of conversations.
It was probably invented in Florence in the early 20th century, but this version comes from the Umbrian town of Terni, about 150 miles to the south. Andrea Barbaccia, owner of the town's Met bar, created it in homage to one of the great barolo wine producers, Teobaldo "Baldo" Cappellano.
Baldo's granduncle was the pharmacist in Serralunga and used to prepare a "tonico", something halfway between a spirit and a medicine, using Baldo's barolo as a base. He called it barolo chinato - which literally translates as "bent barolo". The secret recipe is guarded by the family and you can buy it from off licences here.
Baldo was a towering, charismatic figure, and when he died in 2009, Andrea and his family opened a bottle of the cappellano piè franco - a particularly fine wine produced from a tiny, ungrafted vineyard - to toast his passing. When the bottle was finally empty, Andrea wrote "ciao Baldo" on the label and started to cry.
To this day, if you ask for a "ciao Baldo" at Andrea's bar you will be served this - a twist on the classic negroni that replaces the martini rosso with the much better barolo chinato. A negroni chinato, if you like.
You can of course use martini rosso, but if you are using the barolo chinato make sure that you use a gin without too strong a flavour, as the chinato packs a strong herbal and aromatic punch. It is potent stuff.
Make your own negroni
45ml barolo chinato
1 Mix together and pour over ice into two tumblers. Serve. Sometimes an orange segment is added.
Baldo's bequest: a negroni chinato. Photograph: Tricia de Courcy Ling for the Guardian