Negroni Sbagliato: Your Complete Guide To The Popular Cocktail

It's been impossible to ignore the new resurgence of the Negroni sbagliato cocktail. With just three ingredients, this is one of the hottest and most delicious cocktails you can make at home. Not only is it simple to put together, but it's also quite delicious and it has gained a new legion of followers because of how it combines flavors. It's a bit of sweetness that's perfectly balanced with bitter notes.

The traditional Negroni is so well-loved by readers that the publication has dubbed it the 9th most popular cocktail in the world. And the Negroni sbagliato, which means "mistaken Negroni" in Italian, is similar in flavor profile to the classic Negroni. But because the Negroni sbagliato is made with sparkling wine in place of gin, it's a lighter option making it perfect for happy hours and Sunday brunches (via Imbibe). If you're curious about what to expect before ordering a Negroni sbagliato on your next trip to the cocktail bar, we've rounded up all you need to know about this buzzy cocktail so you can sip with confidence.

It's seen renewed popularity after a celebrity shout out

When Olivia Cooke asked HBO House of Dragon co-star Emma D'Arcy to list their favorite drink in a behind the scenes clip, no one could know how much demand D'Arcy would generate for the cocktail. In a TikTok video that has now been liked 1.7 million times, D'Arcy, who uses the pronouns they/them, replies to Cooke that the Negroni sbagliato "with Prosecco in it" is their drink of choice.

If you'd like to experience the flavors that have D'Arcy enthralled, it's certainly worth ordering the next chance you get. Or you can make it at home with a few simple ingredients that you likely already have on hand. Per Imbibe, just mix equal parts sweet vermouth, Campari, and sparkling wine and prepare to be wowed. This drink, which has been around for decades, is one of those special libations that tastes great and looks snazzy, yet is incredibly easy to whip up at home. No wonder it's seeing a boom in popularity.

Its name is a nod to its conception

Many of today's most popular food and drinks were created by mistake. Chimichangas were invented when a burrito fell into a deep fryer. Champagne was allegedly the result of an accidental second fermentation happening in the bottle of already-made wine.

These were all mistakes that birthed delicious things. And the Negroni sbagliato has a similar (possibly apocryphal) origin story. In Milan, Italy, bar owner Mirko Stocchetto was whipping up a batch of Negronis when he accidentally grabbed a bottle of sparkling wine instead of gin, explains Imbibe. Its creation may have been a mistake, but there's nothing wrong with the way the Negroni sbagliato tastes. The flavor profile follows the golden rule of cocktails, which according to Urban Drinks is one alcoholic component, one bitter component, and one sweet component. This Negroni sbagliato checks all the boxes and has shown the everlasting quality of a well-made drink.

It was invented in Milan

Although the exact dates of the Negroni sbagliato's creation are murky, one thing that's known is where this drink originates. With ingredients such as sparkling wine, vermouth, and Campari, it practically shouts from the rooftops that it's an Italian creation. As we've discussed, Mirko Stocchetto, who owned Bar Basso in Milan, is credited with creating this refreshing, bubbly cocktail that's perfect for happy hour.

If you want a true taste of Milan, you have to take part in aperitivo, the city-wide happy hour ritual that is often accompanied by light snacks and is meant to prepare your palate and belly for a meal. The city is the birthplace of many Italian aperitivos and bitters like Rabarbo Zucca and Fernet Branca, as noted by Salone Milano. So the Negroni sbagliato is in good company in Milan, which in addition to being renowned for fashion and architecture is also a great food and drinks city.

It works with any sparkling wine

The wonderful world of sparkling wine is one you can get lost in. There's French Champagne, German Sekt, and Spanish Cava. And then there are the styles you may have never heard of. Prosecco is by far the most popular sparkling wine, and sold more than 600 million bottles in 2021, according to It eclipses other types of sparkling wine and sold more than cava and champagne combined, explains Forbes. So if you do decide to use prosecco in your Negroni sbagliato, you can't go wrong.

But don't let that dissuade you from trying other styles of sparkling wine. While you probably don't want to buy a high-end bottle just to mix in with other ingredients, choosing a dry sparkling wine from $10-15 will get you a nice quality wine that will accentuate the Negroni sbagliato and not just hide behind the other ingredients.

You can use either Aperol or Campari

If you've ever struggled to tell the difference between Aperol and Campari, no need to feel bad about it. They're both Italian aperitivos, have bitter notes, and are an unmistakable shade of red-orange. Aperol is slightly sweeter, but unless you're a seasoned mixologist, or are making a very specific recipe, they're widely considered interchangeable.

With the Negroni sbagliato, the same rule goes — feel free to use either Campari or Aperol. Martha Stewart's recipe even calls for either drink to be used, allowing you to make your own decision. It's worth noting that the original recipe calls for Campari and if you have it on hand, you should always opt for that to keep the integrity of the recipe. But if you happen to have Aperol instead, you can go ahead and use it in your Negroni sbagliato. That's because it's the bitter notes that matter more than anything else. So as long as you're adding an aperitivo that brings some bitterness, you likely won't even notice a difference.

It's a lighter version of a Negroni

Based off its name, it should come to no surprise that the Negroni sbagliato is rather similar to the Negroni. It is, however, a little lighter than its older sibling. Because a Negroni is traditionally made with gin instead of a heavier spirit such as whiskey, it's already got a lighter flavor than its dark color may suggest. And when you swap in sparkling wine for gin, you end up with a surprisingly refreshing, light cocktail.

This is the cocktail you suggest to the die-hard Negroni lovers in your group. No, it's not quite the same, but the similarities are enough to keep you intrigued. It's also the cocktails that you suggest to the rare friend who wants to try a Negroni but doesn't like gin, suggests Taste and Tipple. And if you're on the hunt for a Negroni with lower alcohol content, then the Negroni sbagliato lets you get similar flavors while consuming less alcohol.

The Negroni sbagliato is more similar to an Americano than an Aperol spritz

The Negroni sbagliato shares some attributes with the Aperol spritz, another fizzy, bitter Italian drink that briefly took over the world. If you think a Negroni sbagliato is similar to an Aperol spritz, wait 'til you try an Americano. This cocktail, which shares the same name as a famous coffee drink, consists of equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth topped with club soda, according to Esquire. There's just enough sweetness from the sweet vermouth and club soda, but it's kept in balance with the Campari.

We like to think of this as the slightly more summery, sippable version of a Negroni sbagliato. It's just the drink for when you want all the flavor in a lighter format. While you'll probably fall in love with the Negroni sbagliatio, the fact that you can keep all of the same ingredients on hand and make several different drinks means you can keep the party going with tons of options for guests.

Sweet vermouth cocktails weren't always a hit

While Manhattans and Negronis are considered classic, must-try cocktails, they weren't always fan favorites. Historians discovered the oldest trace of fortified wine in 2004 in Jiahu China. This wine was discovered on pieces of an ancient vessel that was believed to hold mead and rice wine, according to Spirits Beacon. Aromatized wine was enjoyed in China more than 3,000 years ago, but it's also been found in other parts of the world such as modern-day Iran. Ancient Greeks and Romans also developed their spin on the wine drink, using a wide array of ingredients such as oregano and radish.

It wasn't until 1786 that wine shop assistant Antonio Benedetto Carpano took his family's wormwood recipe and added botanicals and named it Vermut. The drink spread to France and eventually around the world and was a massive part of the 1920s speakeasy culture in the 1920s. But when War World II started, international exports halted and it was nearly impossible to get Italian vermouth anywhere outside of Italy. It then struggled to regain a foothold as a popular drink until the early 2000s, when it finally became, yet again, an integral part of cocktail culture. 

Sweet vermouth is a must

As the names suggest, dry and sweet vermouth are different in sweetness level. Both are fortified wines, but sweet vermouth is, well, sweeter than dry vermouth and it also has richer notes such of spice and herbaceousness. Dry vermouth is perfect in drinks such as martinis, but when it comes to the Negroni sbagliato, it's sweet vermouth all the way. This sets the Negroni sbagliato apart from other stiffer cocktails and keeps it from being too bitter. So if your palate likes something a bit more gentle, but is still craving the unique and sharp notes of Campari, you'll probably understand exactly what sweet vermouth does in the Negroni sbagliato.

Cocktail Club suggests you use some discernment when choosing the vermouth for your Negroni sbagliato. So just as it's a good idea to think about quality overall for the sparkling wine, you'll want to keep the same concept in mind when vermouth hunting.

It doesn't require any fancy ingredients or tools

If you spent the greater part of 2022 sprucing up your cocktail kit, then we've got some bad news for you: You can put away the muddler, strainer, and citrus press. If you have access to the three necessary ingredients and some ice then you can make a Negroni sbagliato without other fancy tools.

Because there's minimal prep involved, you can whip up a Negroni sbagliato in a matter of minutes. It's a great set of ingredients to keep on hand for last-minute guests. You'll need even amounts of sweet vermouth and Campari or Aperol, but if you feel comfortable eyeballing it, that's always an option. Or if you use your jigger to make the first few, you'll get used to exactly how the measurements should look. The steps for making a Negroni sbagliato are so simple that even on the Campari website, they only list two steps: Pour the ingredients into a glass with ice and garnish with an orange slice.

Save your gadgets for your Paper Planes and daiquiris, because the Negroni sbagliato is as simple to make as it is delicious.

It pairs well with food

Although wine and food pairings get most of the attention, there's a special place in the foodie-verse for cocktail and food pairings. While whiskey and steak is a delicious pairing, some cocktails and spirits aren't quite as straightforward. Standard Negronis are an ideal match for powerful flavors like salt-forward dishes and big, bold cheeses, explains Made In Italy. That's why a cheese and smoked meat platter is pretty perfect.

But when it comes to pairing a Negroni sbagliato, some additional considerations make it a slightly more challenging feat. The good news is that the inclusion of sparkling wine instead of gin takes away some of the difficulty. If you're sticking with an aperitivo hour and planning to break out the cheese board, you can stick to dried and smoked meats like salamis, and add in some marinated olives and cheeses. The Negroni sbagliato also easily pairs with other classic aperitivo snacks such as crostini or little finger sandwiches.