I’m just going to come right out and say it: for the past month, I’ve given up on the thought of ordering a Negroni at a bar to avoid being labeled a follower of meme culture. Although the classic Negroni (equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari) has been one of my go-to drinks for many years, the bartender asking for my order and the regulars next to me don’t know that. They probably think I’m hopping on the Emma D’Arcy bandwagon after the “House of the Dragon” star announced the Negroni sbagliato as their drink of choice in a candid interview with co-star Olivia Cooke. (I wonder, if they had offered sangria or Tom Collins, if this drink would have exploded.)
“It’s as popular as ‘a negroni sbagliato with prosecco’ just because it’s redundant because it’s known as a negroni sbagliato with prosecco. That’s a drink!,” says Nate Haskell, bartender at OAK Long Bar + Kitchen in Boston.
Translates to “mistake” in Italian and was born out of coincidence when a Milanese bartender accidentally poured from a bottle. Prosecco Instead of gin, the viral video threw all styles of the amber-hued cocktail into the spotlight. And it makes me want nothing to do with them (I’ve never made one at home).
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Let me explain, in fact, what I like not only about Sbagliato but about all fad cocktails. However, viral moments like these create opportunities for bars to capitalize on the drink du jour’s Five minutes of fame, to the casual imbiber, is just another fleeting moment in mass-media culture. Most Negroni newcomers don’t care about what they’re drinking, however why They’re drinking it — and that ‘why’ should fit (usually with aspirations of creating their own viral social media post). “It’s like not knowing who Tom Hanks is, seeing a clip from a movie he’s in, and then going on a social media crusade to make the rest of the world aware,” says Lou Charbonneau, beverage director at Boston’s Genia Greek Hospitality. . “We know – thanks for bringing attention to the quality things we already love and have enjoyed for so long.”
Look back at the past few years where the likes of Cosmopolitan, Aperol Spritz, and Espresso Martini went mainstream overnight (don’t even get me started on Dirty Shirley’s). Sure, these internet crazes may lead a few lucky imbibers to discover their new favorite drink, but for the most part, viral drinks die a long, slow death where modern orders are “I’ll be basic but…” or, “Make it back to 2019.” Let’s throw it.” And for cocktail enthusiasts and mixologists who love the classics, this is a concern.
The reality is, fad drinks are nothing new, but how carelessly we consume them, and I’m ashamed. Early drinking trends date back to the turn of the 20th century, when Old Fashioneds were celebrated for their simplicity. In the 1920s, that evolved into gin martinis. The ’40s were about daiquiris, the ’50s were about vodka martinis, and so on. As social networks came into play, these decade-long trends turned into mere month- or week-long sensations that buried themselves in our grids, and therefore, our minds.
“Cocktail trends can act as a double-edged sword: On the one hand, we’re happy to see people step out of their comfort zone and order something new,” says Ricky Dolinsky, co-owner, chef and mixologist at Yo+ Shoku & Ka. Paper planes in NYC. “On the other hand, running to try something because it was endorsed by a celebrity, or worse, just because it was shown on social media, can act as tunnel vision for the next patron.” He says it’s not unusual for guests to come in and order the hottest cocktail of the moment without looking at the drink list, even though Dolinski’s bars have more than 20 original house cocktails.
“I think it’s kind of fun to see a bunch of bright-eyed people ordering Negroni sbagliatos for the first time, realizing it’s a bitter cocktail that’s not for everyone,” says Harrison Snow, beverage director and. Co-owner of Lullaby in NYC. “I’ve seen some half-full Sbagliatos left at the bar.”
Those half-full Sbagliatos left to pour down the drain are emblematic of modern society’s short attention spans, as many imbibers briefly entertain the novelty before trading it in for their usual order without even understanding the origin, legend, craft, or ingredients. — except for Prosecco, duh — around them. Thus, such microtrends not only ruin beloved classics; They eliminate the creativity of the bartender.
But some bartenders recognize a missed learning opportunity for fashionable cocktails. “I’d much rather have a guest sit at my bar and ask them to guide me through a cocktail like the one I saw online, but they taste better,” says Emily Harding, bar manager at Civility Social House in Somerville. , Mass. That way, she says, drinkers who are genuinely curious about what’s in their glass are able to come away with something they actually enjoy and order again.
“If we were living in the early to mid-2000s, cocktails that went viral would be a boon to craft cocktail culture. It would bring awareness to the world of craft cocktails that the general public may not have known before,” said Sam Slaughter, author of “Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum?” “In 2022, I don’t think it’s necessary. Those looking to cash in thanks to viral trends or ‘be part of the cool group’ will move on to the next drink. “
If only social media could spark a more timeless trend. Abby Taylor, bar manager at Urban Hearth in Cambridge, Mass., believes such moments of virality hinder the artistry behind the cocktail, scratching a fleeting itch regardless of the drink’s history or composition. “I’d like to see a return to an apothecary approach to cocktail making,” she says. “Spending time sourcing quality ingredients, growing your own herbs and fruits, or diving deep into the medicinal properties of the syrups and tonics you use can help shape new trends.”
Until then, if you’re feeling fed up with sbagliatos — or whatever other social sips we’re into — like I am — Slaughter reminds us: “They’re viral trends for a reason; they’re going to go out of style sooner rather than later.”