Sushi Rice Is The Key To Your Negroni Concoctions

The Negroni has seen a groundswell in popularity over the last few years as cocktail culture continues to explode. Not only does any bartender worth their salt know how to make a Negroni, but there's a good chance they know a few interesting riffs on the classic drink that might swap out the gin for another spirit or play with different kinds of vermouths. The Negroni Sbagliato, one of the most popular riffs on the cocktail — which swaps gin out for prosecco — had a brief viral stint after "House of the Dragon" star Emma D'Arcy said that they liked, a Negroni Sbagliato with prosecco in it, sending Tik Tok into a prosecco-pouring frenzy.

Like many classic cocktails such as the Boulevardier, the Sazerac, or the Manhattan, the Negroni's evolved from a beloved, bittersweet Italian classic into a true test of technique for the mixologist making it. From nailing an ideal dilution ratio to understanding the flavor profiles and ABV of specific bottles of gin and sweet vermouth all the way down to perfectly swathing an orange peel, the Negroni's far more than just equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari.

A Secret Ingredient

Leanna Favre, who works at Winona's in Brooklyn, may have unlocked a key technique to rounding out some of the Negroni's harsher edges. Her secret comes from an unexpected place: sushi rice. While rice has been used to make distillates and wines like soju and sake for centuries, plain uncooked rice isn't a common cocktail ingredient. So what makes rice such a good additive for cocktails?

Unwashed sushi rice, like many other types of rice, is coated in starch. While that's not an ideal factor for cooking rice to eat, when you stir or shake it into a cocktail, the starch from the rice blends into the liquids in the cocktail the same way it catches onto water when you wash it before cooking. Stirring a tablespoon of rice into a cocktail makes the resulting drink silkier and takes some of the edge away from the Campari's pervasive bitterness. Speaking with Punch, Favre said, "I love trying this with any classics that have bitter elements." That said, she also recommends using a few tablespoons in other non-bitter stirred drinks like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan too.

Mixing with raw rice may be the next big trend in craft cocktails. More and more bartenders are using it in drinks to impart a silky, horchata-like texture and flavor.