Q&A: Gaz Regan
Writer and longtime bartender Gary “Gaz” Regan is among the world’s most devoted Negroni ambassadors. This year, Regan celebrated the iconic cocktail in his new book, The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita. In the spirit of Negroni Week, we chatted with Regan about the book project, his favorite place to drink a Negroni and what he loves so much about the cocktail.
Imbibe: In the intro to your book, The Negroni, you describe the Negroni’s ingredients as soul mates, and you’ve loved this cocktail for many years. What is it you love so much about the play of gin, vermouth and Campari?
Gaz Regan: The three ingredients in a Negroni are all so complex, all layered with lots of botanicals, and yet each one seems to always allow the other two ingredients shine through. Negronis are like symphonies in a glass, and every instrument is in tune.
Imbibe: Do you have a favorite place or time to sip a Negroni? Perhaps a few favorites?
GR: Well, I must say that I love a Negroni on my deck after a day in the garden, but then again, I also love Negronis at 5-star restaurants, seedy dives, on cruise-ships, at after-hours joints, jazz clubs, seafood houses, and at Mexican restaurants where they pair very well with Chili Rellenos. Oh, and I should mention that, if one orders a Martini or a Manhattan at 9 in the morning, one is likely to get disapproving looks, but for some reason it’s okay to order Negronis at any hour of the day at all. And they do pack quite a punch, you know.
Imbibe: Where will you be imbibing during Negroni Week 2015?
GR: I’ll be in Kentucky visiting Buffalo Trace, then I’ll be at the 92nd St Y in New York City with Robert Simonson on June 4. I’ll be talking Negronis, Robert will be talking Old-Fashioneds, then I’ll be sipping Negronis on my deck in the Hudson Valley for the rest of the week, and preparing for my next Cocktails in the Country Bartender Workshop.
Imbibe: Let’s talk variations! What elements do you think much be present in a cocktail for it to be categorized as a Negroni variation (as opposed to an entirely different cocktail).
GR: I’m very liberal about this aspect of the Negroni, so all I need is for a creator to tell me that he or she was thinking of the Negroni when they came up with their new creation, and that’s good enough for me. Some folk look askance at this attitude. I have better things to look askance at!