Ever since I read a piece about it online, years ago, I’ve wanted to try a negroni.
(I believe it was on The Awl, or a similar site, but the only thing that comes up when you google “negroni” and “awl” is this Negroni Season essay, and I can’t understand how that would have been the thing to inspire me to sample the drink. In my memory, whatever I read was smooth and cool and romantic…but then, if you know me, you might think this piece is more suited for me than any of those words anyway, so.)
Because I thought of it as something casually elegant and subtly sophisticated, I was waiting for the perfect moment to drink a negroni. In the multiple years since I first read about it, that moment never came.
So yesterday, when I heard about a tiny sliver of a bar in the hot, cramped–yet ridiculously charming–streets of Old San Juan, and saw that the guava negroni was on the menu, I ventured there after dinner. I was the only customer at 8pm, which didn’t faze me because I was a daring tourist brave enough to barge in on what (I’d read) was a local favorite. It wasn’t going to be awkward to sip a drink while 4 employees had conversations in Spanish that I couldn’t understand, because I wasn’t going to let it be awkward.
It was awkward.
But I got to try the negroni, which was all that mattered. This unique drink that I had romanticized for years was finally in front of me, and I could see, for once and for all, what all the fuss was about.
So how was it? Kind of gross.
It turns out a negroni is basically straight alcohol. My version must have been slightly less potent, tempered only by the guava that was allegedly in there somewhere (it was my bartender’s first day on the job, so who knows if the fruit was even really there).
I’d so been looking forward to experiencing this very adult, slightly mysterious drink, but it was actually just like a lot of adult things–not as fun as they sound. I mean, hey, I have a birthday soon, so I’m all too aware of the fact that I really am an adult. And I’m a proponent of being a realist whenever possible. But in life–and in drinks–I’m also a fan of stirring in some sugar to help reality go down more easily.