That canonical expression of strong and stirred, the Negroni has gained a veritable cult status. Built most often (but not always) on an equal-parts formula of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, this now-ubiquitous template has spurred what seems like an endless number of mutations. Even within the traditional parameters of the drink, variations abound, with several bartenders simply swapping out the traditional Campari for one of the dozens of new Italianate red bitters that have recently come to market. Then there are the drink’s close relatives—the Boulevardier, for instance, which replaces the gin with bourbon, or the White Negroni, made with gin, Suze and Lillet Blanc—which have become tried-and-true modern classics in their own right.
While these riffs might not read as Negronis at first glance, they nevertheless adhere to the bitter, bracing nature of the original. Whether it’s playing with the ratios or introducing new ingredients to the format—fino sherry in Dan Greenbaum’s Remember the Alimony, for example, or crème de cacao in Sarah Morrissey’s Negroni Absinthe—these riffs prove that even in a three-ingredient drink, there’s always room for improvement. Here are our favorites.