I first tasted a negroni sbagliato in a haze of jet lag after moving to the tiniest Italian town for graduate school. My father and I slipped into a dark, cozy bar on a blustery fall night and refreshed ourselves with an aperitivo: Italy’s wonderful pre-dinner cocktail ritual. In my rusty Italian, I asked the bartender to make me what he liked, and this bubbly, lighter interpretation of a negroni landed in front of me.
The 1:1:1 combination of bitter Campari, Italian sweet vermouth, and sparkling wine falls somewhere between a boozy gin-based negroni and an easy-drinking spritz. It’s become one of my go-to drinks ever since, whether I order it at a cocktail bar or make it at home.
What’s the Difference Between a Negroni and a Negroni Sbagliato?
Both the negroni and negroni sbagliato are classic Italian cocktails, and the difference between the two is quite slight.
- Negroni: A negroni is made up of equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. It also typically features an orange peel garnish. The drink is stirred, rather than shaken, and served in a rocks glass over ice. It’s traditionally enjoyed as an aperitivo — a cocktail that’s sipped before dinner.
- Negroni sbagliato: A negroni sbagliato is just like a negroni with the exception of the gin. The gin is replaced with prosecco for a bubbly interpretation of the three-ingredient cocktail.
What Does Sbagliato Mean? And How Do You Pronounce It?
Sbagliato (prounouced spah-lee-ah-toh) is the Italian word for “wrong” or “mistaken.” The cocktail is a “wrong” negroni because the traditional gin is swapped out for prosecco. It is said to have been mistakingly created by a Milanese bar owner in the 1970s when he accidentally reached for a bottle of bubbly instead of gin. It was such a hit that the drink has been popular in Italy and beyond ever since.
How to Serve a Negroni Sbagliato
Just like a negroni, a negroni sbagliato is served in an ice-filled rocks glass and typically garnished with an orange peel twist.
This classic Italian cocktail is a bubbly twist on a traditional negroni.
Prep time 5 minutes
Fill a rocks or Old-Fashioned glass with ice. Add 1 ounce Campari and 1 ounce sweet vermouth and stir to combine. Top with 1 ounce prosecco and gently stir again to combine. Garnish with an orange twist if desired.