The Negroni is possibly the perfect cocktail. Easy, classic, customizable, and complex. It’s as at home on the beach as it is in the snow, but its potent character isn’t for everyone. With a little experimentation however, it can be.

Like a lot of cocktails, the Negroni’s originator is much disputed but its place of origin is less controversial. The north of Italy is famous for amaro liqueurs, bitter, herbal concoctions used as aperitifs and digestifs. Among their ranks is the incomparable Campari, the one ingredient that’s an absolute must for making a proper Negroni. Its bright red color and bitter bite help give the cocktail its signature flavors.

Aside from the inclusion of Campari, one other aspect of this drink is paramount: the ratio. A Negroni always follows a 1:1:1 ratio of Campari, gin, and sweet/red vermouth. That simple math is what makes this drink so easy. Adjusting for size is a breeze when its just 1:1:1.

So we know we need Campari and we know our ratio, now it’s time to customize. The wide variety found within the worlds of gin and vermouth make tailoring the Negroni for your own tastes a journey worth taking. Like things dry and less sweet? Opt for Beefeater Gin and good old Martini and Rossi. Maybe you prefer your drinks on the mellow and sweeter side? Hendricks Gin and Dolin Rouge is a good bet. The options are endless and finding the right gin and vermouth combo will leave you with a recipe you can trust for life.

I like my Negronis spicy and sweet. Here’s my go-to recipe:

1 part The Botanist Gin
1 part Punt e Mes Vermouth
1 part Campari.

Just add the ingredients to a glass of ice and stir. Now you have about 90% of a proper Negroni. It’s more than drinkable at this point but not yet perfect. For that you need fire!

Garnishes are often overlooked when making cocktails at home. In my opinion the Negroni just isn’t complete without its garnish: the flamed orange peel.

Once you’ve built the drink in the glass and it’s properly chilled, peel a decently sized slice of orange rind and and strike a match or lighter. Now, hold the flame over the glass and squeeze the peel, sending the orange oil through the flame and onto the surface of your drink. This is more for your nose than your tongue but the toasted oil makes all the difference for this drink and really makes it shine. Just whatever you do, do not stir the cocktail further. DO NOT STIR IT! Leave that smokey orange oil on top. Its scent in your nose and the taste of the drink on your tongue is such an amazing combination. Don’t skip the orange peel. Who doesn’t have a little pyromaniac in them? Let that fire starter have some fun.

This is one of my all time favorite drinks and it’s too easy to make and the ingredients are too easy to find not to give it a whirl. Enjoy!