Any Italian native speakers out there may feel free to correct me, but the apparent translation of sblagliato is either “wrong,” “erroneous,” or “full of mistakes.” That, I suppose is reason enough to end 2018, a year in which running things has largely equated with running things into the ground. It also comports with my personal tendency to suggest New Year’s cocktails containing a sparkling white wine.
According to authors Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau writing in their 2016 book, Spritz, the Negroni Sbagliato is the apparent creation of 20th century Milan bartender Mirko Stocchetto. It seems unlikely to me that any bartender, no matter how incompetent, could actually mistake prosecco, the Italian answer to France’s Champagne, for the gin we find in a classic Negroni. Yet, that’s the implication.
In any case, you’d have to be in a pretty nasty mood to actually consider this lighter alternative to the very bitter and very sweet classic anything like a sbagliato.
The Negroni Sbagliato
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3 ounces prosecco (chilled)
1 orange twist (highly desirable garnish
Method 1: Put the vermouth and campari in a cocktail shaker or, if you must a mixing glass. Add lots of ice, shake or stir (definitely shake, I say), and strain into a chilled Champagne flute. Top off with chilled prosecco or another reasonably dry sparkling white wine, and stir again. Add the orange twist.
Method 2: Build in a rocks/Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir and add the orange twist.
Like all of us, I’ve got to watch my money as we brace for the results of the multiple cluster-sbagliati that may soon hit our economy, so I stuck with just one brand of prosecco for this week’s drink, Gancia. I’m no expert but I gather it’s a solid, mid-price product that’s probably close to ideal for cocktail style adulteration. I’m sure many other brands will also be just as good or better. Indeed, any relatively dry Champagne of other sparkling white wine from elsewhere is likely to be effective. I had slightly better luck with Cocchi Vermouth di Torino than Noilly Pratt. Maybe this drink just wants to be fully Italian.
The main question here is proportion. The proportions given in Spritz turned out to be the best by far to my tastebuds. While many of the recipes you can find online call for the Sbagliatoj to follow the classic Negroni proportions of 1:1:1, there’s no getting around the fact that Campari, much as I love it, is an ingredient where a little goes a long way. However, I found that while I like the 1:1:3 formula in an on the rock spritz-style beverage, I enjoyed it up in a nicely chilled Champagne flute more. I think it’s important to shake it to keep things nice and cold, by the way. Of course, you should try this drink for yourself and see which version works best for you. That not be an error…I could have said a sbagliato, of course, but it’s clear to me than using the word “sbagliato” too many times to be cute would itself be a pretty horrible sbagliato.