If I had to pick a single classic cocktail to drink for the rest of my life … OK, I can’t lie, it would be the martini. But if I had to pick a second one, it would almost certainly be the Negroni, that bitter, complex elixir of gin, vermouth, and Campari that now takes center stage at every hip cocktail party.
This week (June 24–30) is Negroni Week, a collaboration between Campari and Imbibe magazine. All across the world, thousands of bars and restaurants are coming up with their own takes on the drink, with proceeds going to great causes.
The rules of Negroni Week are simple: a bar has to serve a variation on the cocktail, and it has to donate cash to charity. There are more than 10,000 participating bars and a long list of charitable partners (everything from international aid to LGBTQ+ advocacy). And the drink prices go a long way: Since its inception in 2013, the event has raised more than $2 million. Guests get to drink and money gets where it’s needed — it’s a win-win.
In Chicago, there are a huge number of different options to choose from. You can check them all out on the official website, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Spilt Milk has created a really fun Negroni variation, and, of course, they’ve named it for themselves. The Spilt Milk Negroni combines Bols Genever, Galliano L’Aperitivo, and vermouth. The proceeds go to the United States Bartenders Guild’s Emergency Assistance Program, which raises funds to assist restaurant industry workers affected by natural disasters.
- Kumiko, one of the best new bars in the city, has a unique take on the cocktail — so unique, in fact, that I’m not entirely sure it’s a Negroni anymore, but who’s counting? It’s a mixture of sake, Campari, and sakura saline. The proceeds go to benefit the food education nonprofit Pilot Light.
- Bar Roma is actually serving three different takes on the cocktail, including the delicious Boulevardier, a blonde Negroni with Cocchi Americano and Dolin dry vermouth, and a “Sbagliato” made with Campari, vermouth, and prosecco. The proceeds from all three benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
- In fair weather, head to Cindy’s for a rooftop view and a kick-in-the-pants boozy version of the cocktail, the Queen of Hearts. It combines rum, plum brandy, Campari, and Cocchi di Torino, with proceeds also supporting the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Get out and start drinking … for charity!