The 1794 Cocktail - a twist on the Negroni with rye whiskey, Campari, and sweet vermouth

It all started, as many of the best ideas do, with a tweet.

A few months ago, I was having a chat on Twitter with fellow blogger and cocktail aficionado Brandon from Kitchen Konfidence about his favorite cocktail, the Old Fashioned. I mentioned that I was a fan of the Negroni (in all of its incarnations) and I knew that Brian from A Thought for Food was a gin and tonic champion. This got me thinking – doesn’t every person have their signature drink?

Not a drink that they’re necessarily masters of making (though I think you’ll see that this is often the case), but a drink that they always order when they’re out, a drink that embodies them in a glass. It’s the thing they want when they just don’t want to think about what they want. Whether that’s a Coors Light or a Cuba Libre, a Sazerac or a Sam Adams, everyone has their drink. And these are ours.

The three of us joined together today (on #ThirstyThursday coincidentally) to share with you each of our favorite drinks. Keep on reading to see what Brian and Brandon have shared and to learn about what I drink – the 1794 Cocktail.

Please describe your cocktail of choice.

The 1794 Cocktail is a simple variation on the Negroni…or the Boulevardier, depending on how you want to look at it. In the family of 1:1:1 cocktails (cocktails with the same amount of 3 different ingredients), the classic Negroni is a simple combination of equal parts of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, stirred over ice and either served up or on the rocks (I’m an “on-the-rocks” guy myself). The Boulevardier swaps out one ingredient and uses bourbon instead of gin, still mixed in equal parts with Campari and sweet vermouth for a stronger variation.

The 1794 takes things one step further by using rye whiskey instead of bourbon, again mixed in equal parts with Campari and sweet vermouth. I first learned about this drink a few years ago at Spoke in Medford, MA, near my college alma mater Tufts University, when a knowledgable server introduced me to it. I might have discovered “my drink” at the age of 27, but it instantly became my go-to.

What flavor profile best fits your cocktail? Sweet, fresh, bitter or savory?

This cocktail is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s all alcohol, strong, and just slightly bitter from the Campari. But it’s also a touch sweet from the vermouth and a bit spicy from the rye. The equal combination makes a bracing yet balanced cocktail that I especially love before dinner.

The 1794 Cocktail - a twist on the Negroni with rye whiskey, Campari, and sweet vermouth

Why is this drink your favorite?

While I do love a Negroni, most of the time after a long day I’m in the mood for something a little bit stronger. And being a whiskey guy, I always tend towards the brown spirit based drinks on the menu. Unlike the Boulevardier, in which the bourbon can kind of get lost with its inherent sweetness, the spiciness of rye stands out against the Campari and sweet vermouth in a very balanced way. Plus, it’s a drink that’s become my own. You almost never see it on cocktail menus, most people haven’t heard of it, but it’s just the slightest variation on something very common. (Until now), this has been the “my little secret” cocktail. The thing I always drink…that no one knows about.  At a bar, I’ll often ask for “a Boulevardier with rye instead of bourbon” to avoid being that guy who asks for the obscure cocktail!

Do you enjoy variations, or do you just stick to the original recipe?

With the 1794, I like to keep things plain and simple…because it’s meant to be a simple drink. As Anthony Bourdain says about the Negroni, you can literally go to any bar in the world and tell them how to make one of these (presuming they have rye!). Sometimes I’ll have it served up but most of the time I like it over ice, keeping the drink colder for longer. Occasionally, I’ll add a few dashes of Angostura, orange, or grapefruit bitters if I have them around but 9 times out of 10, I enjoy it best in its classic form.

When making cocktails, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received (or read)?

When to shake and when to stir. It matters, not only from a clarity and incorporation perspective, but from a texture perspective. The first time I ever heard of a drink described with texture, it changed the way I thought about cocktails. Shaking with ice adds air, but it also adds tiny shavings from the ice. Stirring cools the drink more gently, giving it a velvety smoothness. Shaking without ice can give a drink volume. These are things I never thought about before that moment.

The 1794 Cocktail - a twist on the Negroni with rye whiskey, Campari, and sweet vermouth

Before we get to the recipe, make sure to check out the cocktails that Brian and Brandon are sharing today too!

Brian from A Thought for Food drinks a:

Blackberry Gin and Tonic

Blackberry Gin and Tonic from A Thought for Food

Brandon from Kitchen Konfidence drinks an:

Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned Cocktail from Kitchen Konfidence

And now, here’s how to make my 1794 Cocktail.

The 1794 Cocktail

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1 ounce rye whisky
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Orange peel

  1. In a large mixing glass, combine the rye, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Fill with ice.
  2. Using a long bar spoon, stir the ingredients for 30-45 seconds until ice cold.
  3. Strain into either a pre-chilled rocks glass or a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  4. Squeeze the orange peel over the glass to release the essential oils, rub it around the rim of the glass then drop it into the cocktail and serve.