Bobby Flay’s Favorite Cocktail: The Negroni Sbagliato Story

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In the world of cocktails, trends come and go, but some classics never fade away. One such timeless favorite is the Negroni Sbagliato, and it seems celebrity chef Bobby Flay has a special affection for this bubbly concoction. Let’s delve into the origins, flavors, and appeal of Bobby Flay’s go-to cocktail.

The Negroni Sbagliato

How to Make a Negroni: Ingredients and Recipe | Campari

The Negroni Sbagliato is a delightful variation of the classic Negroni cocktail with a fascinating backstory. Legend has it that this “mistaken Negroni” originated in Milan during the 1970s when a bartender accidentally used prosecco instead of gin while preparing the drink. The result was a serendipitous blend of sparkling wine, Campari, and vermouth that quickly gained popularity for its lighter and bubblier profile compared to the traditional Negroni.

Despite its accidental beginnings, the Negroni Sbagliato has cemented its place as a beloved cocktail in Italian bars and beyond. Its effervescent character, coupled with the bittersweet flavors of Campari and the herbal notes of vermouth, make it a refreshing and sophisticated drink choice.

Renowned chef Bobby Flay is among the enthusiasts of the Negroni Sbagliato, often expressing his fondness for this bubbly concoction. Flay’s affinity for the drink has led him to incorporate it into the menu at his restaurant, Amalfi, where he puts his own spin on the classic recipe.

The Negroni Sbagliato’s timeless appeal lies in its balance of flavors, its versatility for customization, and its intriguing origin story—a testament to the enduring charm of cocktails that stand the test of time.

Bobby Flay’s Affair with the Negroni Sbagliato

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Renowned chef Bobby Flay has professed his love for the Negroni Sbagliato on numerous occasions. In an episode of his podcast “Always Hungry” with daughter Sophie, Flay revealed that the Negroni Sbagliato holds a special place in his heart. He fondly reminisced about enjoying this cocktail during his travels in Italy, and even incorporates it into the menu at his restaurant, Amalfi.

Bobby Flay’s affection for the Negroni Sbagliato runs deep, reflecting his appreciation for its unique flavors and intriguing backstory. The renowned chef has openly expressed his love for this bubbly concoction, sharing anecdotes of enjoying it during his travels in Italy and incorporating it into the menu at his restaurant, Amalfi.

In various interviews and on his podcast “Always Hungry” with daughter Sophie, Flay has highlighted the Negroni Sbagliato as one of his go-to cocktails. He reminisces about savoring this Italian classic, particularly during his visits to Italian restaurants and bars. Flay’s admiration for the Negroni Sbagliato goes beyond its taste; it represents a connection to Italian culture and culinary tradition that resonates with him deeply.

Flay’s dedication to the Negroni Sbagliato is evident in his efforts to perfect its recipe and introduce his own twist to the classic cocktail. At Amalfi, Flay offers a modern rendition of the Negroni Sbagliato, incorporating his preferred ingredients and techniques to elevate the drinking experience for his patrons.

Bobby Flay’s affair with the Negroni Sbagliato underscores his passion for culinary exploration and appreciation for cocktails that evoke nostalgia and cultural significance. It’s a testament to his discerning palate and his ability to find inspiration in the simplest of pleasures—a perfectly crafted cocktail enjoyed in good company.

A Twist on Tradition: Flay’s Secret Ingredient

What sets Bobby Flay’s Negroni Sbagliato apart from the traditional recipe is his secret ingredient: Aperitivo Cappelletti. Instead of using Campari, Flay opts for this lesser-known Italian liquor, describing it as “a little bit smoother” than its bitter counterpart. Aperitivo Cappelletti, also known as “Specialino,” adds a unique twist to the cocktail with its nuanced flavors derived from Trebbiano grapes.

Bobby Flay’s unique twist on the traditional Negroni Sbagliato involves a secret ingredient that sets his version apart. Instead of adhering strictly to the classic recipe, Flay opts for a lesser-known Italian liquor called Aperitivo Cappelletti.

In contrast to the traditional use of Campari, Aperitivo Cappelletti offers a smoother and slightly different flavor profile, enhancing the overall drinking experience. Flay’s choice reflects his penchant for experimentation and his desire to infuse his own personality into classic cocktails.

Aperitivo Cappelletti, also known as “Specialino,” adds depth and complexity to the Negroni Sbagliato, complementing the herbal notes of vermouth and the effervescence of prosecco. Flay’s incorporation of this secret ingredient demonstrates his dedication to craftsmanship and his commitment to delivering exceptional flavors to his guests.

The Rise of the Negroni in American Culture

The Negroni, with its rich and complex flavors, has experienced a notable rise in popularity within American cocktail culture in recent years. Originally a staple in Italian bars, this classic cocktail has found its way onto the menus of trendy establishments and home bars across the United States.

One factor contributing to the Negroni’s ascent in American culture is its versatility. With just three simple ingredients—gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth—the Negroni offers a perfect balance of bitter, sweet, and herbal flavors that appeal to a wide range of palates. Its simplicity makes it an accessible option for both seasoned mixologists and novice home bartenders looking to craft a sophisticated drink.

Furthermore, the Negroni’s resurgence can be attributed to the growing interest in craft cocktails and artisanal spirits. As consumers become more discerning about the quality and authenticity of their drinks, the Negroni stands out as a timeless classic that embodies the artistry and craftsmanship of cocktail making.

Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have also played a role in popularizing the Negroni, with bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts sharing photos and recipes of their own interpretations of this iconic drink. Additionally, celebrity endorsements and mentions, such as Bobby Flay’s affection for the Negroni Sbagliato, have helped boost its visibility and appeal.

Customizing the Negroni Experience

One of the beauties of the Negroni cocktail is its simplicity, which allows for endless customization. Bartenders and home mixologists alike can experiment with different vermouths, sparkling wines, and additional flavors to create unique variations of this classic drink. Whether it’s substituting Campari with Aperol for a sweeter taste or adding a splash of flavored soda for a refreshing twist, the Negroni offers endless possibilities for creative expression.

Customizing the Negroni experience is a delightful journey that allows enthusiasts to tailor this classic cocktail to their individual tastes and preferences. With its simple yet versatile recipe, the Negroni serves as a perfect canvas for experimentation and creativity.

One of the key aspects of customizing the Negroni is the choice of ingredients. While the traditional recipe calls for equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, there is ample room for variation. Bartenders and home mixologists can explore different brands of gin, each imparting its own unique botanical flavors to the cocktail. Likewise, the selection of vermouth can range from sweet to dry, offering opportunities to fine-tune the balance of sweetness and bitterness in the drink.

For those looking to add a personal twist to their Negroni, there are endless possibilities for ingredient substitutions and additions. Some may opt to swap out Campari for a gentler alternative like Aperol, resulting in a lighter and fruitier variation known as the “Negroni Sbagliato.” Others may experiment with flavored syrups, bitters, or herbal liqueurs to introduce new layers of complexity to the drink.

Beyond the choice of ingredients, the presentation of the Negroni can also be customized to enhance the drinking experience. Garnishes such as orange twists, lemon peels, or fresh herbs not only add visual appeal but also contribute aromatic nuances that complement the cocktail’s flavor profile. Additionally, variations in serving vessels—from traditional rocks glasses to elegant coupe glasses—can lend a touch of sophistication to the occasion.

Negroni Sbagliato Cocktail Recipe

Classic Negroni Sbagliato Cocktail Recipe


  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet red vermouth
  • 1 ounce prosecco (or more, to taste)
  • Citrus slice (blood orange, orange, or lemon) for garnish


  1. Fill a lowball glass with ice if serving on the rocks, or grab a champagne flute if serving up.
  2. Pour Campari and sweet red vermouth over ice or into the flute.
  3. Stir gently for about 5 stirs to combine the spirits.
  4. Pour in prosecco, topping the glass with more if desired.
  5. Garnish the glass with a slice of citrus (blood orange, orange, or lemon).

How to Garnish and Serve Your Sbagliato?

To garnish and serve your Negroni Sbagliato:
  1. After preparing the cocktail, take a slice of your preferred citrus fruit, such as blood orange, orange, or lemon.
  2. Gently place the citrus slice on the rim of the glass or float it atop the drink.
  3. Optionally, you can add a twist by expressing the citrus oils over the drink before garnishing.
  4. Serve the Negroni Sbagliato immediately and enjoy its vibrant flavors!

This garnish adds a visually appealing touch and enhances the cocktail’s aroma and taste.


Bobby Flay’s affinity for the Negroni Sbagliato shines a spotlight on the enduring appeal of this formerly viral favorite. With its rich history, balanced flavors, and room for experimentation, the Negroni Sbagliato continues to captivate cocktail enthusiasts around the world. So next time you’re looking for a drink that’s both sophisticated and satisfying, why not raise a glass to Bobby Flay’s favorite mistake?