For the third year in a row, bars and restaurants will be celebrating Negroni Week. Sponsored by Imbibe magazine and Campari, the worldwide event that runs from June 1 through 7 promotes the classic cocktail that combines equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. For every Negroni purchased, $1 is donated to a charity of the bar owners' choosing.
Last year, 16 local bars and restaurants participated as part of 1,200 nationally. In 2015, Houston is stepping things up, with almost 50 locations. Even bars in Sugar Land, Katy, Spring and The Woodlands are getting involved.
Participants include most of downtown's new hot spots like Moving Sidewalk, The Honeymoon, Henke & Pillot and Houston Watch Company as well as old favorites like Anvil Bar & Refuge and Boheme. Some of the charities include 86 Cancer, Lucky Dog Rescue and Autism Speaks.
"I love the fact that, through this collaborative, bars can unite to raise money for a charity of their choosing making a drink that is near and dear to every bartender as a simply perfect cocktail," Tastemaker Awards Best Bartender winner Lainey Collum of Prohibition writes in an email. "The reason I chose Pierce Sky Park as our 'charity' was simply to raise awareness for this really cool idea in our own community, so that we can have a small part in possibly seeing it to fruition."
For Beaver's bar manager Michael Riojas, the Negroni has a simple appeal.
"Bartenders like the Negroni because it's a balanced cocktail: bitter and not too sweet," he writes in an email. "You can walk into any bar in the world, and, if you order a Negroni, the bartender is going to immediately respect you as a cocktail connoisseur."
Over at Johnny's Gold Brick, each bartender has created a Negroni variation of his or her own. Bar director Leslie Ross says that doing allows each bartender to "put their personality into the glass" by highlighting each person's favorite flavors.
Ross adds that she's looking forward to seeing what her colleagues across the city have come up with. "I am so incredibly proud of our bartenders in Houston. This week, drink WITH us for a cause!"