Even before Stanley Tucci made it “internet famous” this spring during lockdown, the Negroni was a popular cocktail at Dante in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.
The century-old watering hole, a well-trafficked nightspot on Macdougal Street during pre-pandemic times, will serve that colorful libation and other Campari-based drinks during a virtual program from the Italian alcohol brand, all to raise money for hard-hit hospitality workers.
Campari will “reopen” what it’s dubbed “the world’s best bars” over three weekends in June, with the potential to last longer as more nightspots join. So far, New York, Rome and Edinburgh are represented. “Seating” is limited, and only U.K. attendees will be able to get booze delivered for the event. But technically, it’s open to anyone.
The price of admission—£20, or about $25—goes to the Shaken Not Broken fund to support bartenders and restaurant employees in the U.K.
The program kicked off June 12 with Dante, where owner and mixologist Linden Pride specializes in not only the classic Negroni (made with vermouth, gin and Campari) but also lavender and chocolate versions. There’s even a concoction called Unlikely Negroni on his menu that features banana, pineapple shrub, chili and sesame. (Your move, Tucci.)
The virtual get togethers aim to provide “a unique opportunity to learn more about the history and philosophy of the venues and hear some of their host’s best tales from behind the bar,” according to Campari’s statement.
Pride will showcase Dante, originally opened in 1915 and last fall named No. 1 on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, while teaching attendees how to make their own drinks. Entertainment will come from the club’s three-piece jazz band.
Drink Kong in Rome and Panda & Sons in Scotland also plan to take part in the sessions, with multiple days and time slots. That takes a little of the sting out of the limited capacity—only eight people at a time will be allowed past the virtual velvet rope—and a few hundred consumers total will be able to experience the event this month. (The small numbers aim to give fans a chance to interact with each other and the celebrity drink slingers.)
“The closure of bars across the U.K. has had a profound effect on the industry and the livelihoods of those working in it,” said Nick Williamson, marketing director at Campari U.K. “There are also many of us who are missing the experience of going to our favorite venues to enjoy a drink with friends. Although we can’t yet open the doors in real life, this is the next best thing to being there.”
Campari’s parent company, home to SKYY vodka, Grand Marnier and Wild Turkey, among other brands, has seen its sales dip during the public health crisis. Italy, its traditional stronghold, was devastated by the coronavirus and its restaurants were shuttered, causing a double-digit decrease in first-quarter sales.
But for libations like Aperol and Campari, there have been bright spots in markets like the U.S., where those legacy aperitifs have started showing up in millennial and Gen Z-targeted cocktails at tony clubs.
Pride, who owns Dante with his wife, Natalie Hudson, admits that the polarizing, bitter brands are an acquired taste. As he told Chilled magazine: “Very few people who try the Negroni for the first time think, ‘That’s my drink.’”
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