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Local charities to benefit from campaign to promote the notoriously bitter Negroni 

It's long been considered as a sort of "you're one of us" drink between bartenders and boozehounds.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the grasshopper, an oddly delightful dessert drink. If the grasshopper had a surly second cousin that you still loved to hang out with sometimes, it would be the Negroni, a perfect cocktail for a before-dinner summertime drink.

Like the grasshopper, the Negroni is a colorful, equal-parts mix of three ingredients. But that's about all they have in common. A Negroni is gin, semi-sweet vermouth, and Campari. Stir, strain, and serve the bright red drink over ice in a highball glass.

Iconic filmmaker Orson Wells is perhaps the most famous drinker of the Negroni, and is often credited for popularizing the drink in the United States. "The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other," he once said.

It's thought that the Negroni was created in Florence, Italy in 1919, at the request of one Count Camillo Negroni, who requested a stronger version of the Americano (here, gin stands in for soda water). It's a bracingly bitter concoction — so much so that it's long been considered as a sort of "you're one of us" drink between bartenders and boozehounds.

But now, the makers of Campari — the red liqueur that gives the drink its bitterness and color — and Imbibe Magazine want you to embrace the cocktail. For the second year running, they're sponsoring "Negroni Week," a celebration of all things Negroni. From June 2-8, participating bars will highlight both the classic cocktail and spins on the drink.

Participating locations will donate at least $1 per Negroni to a charity of their choice. Many participating bars will be donating to Rainbow Kitchen in Homestead. Other bars are sponsoring their own favorite organizations: The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and Food Revolution Pittsburgh are among the beneficiaries. For a full list of participating bars and charities, see http://negroniweek.com/participating-bars.

So embrace the warm weather, put the grasshopper on the shelf for a bit, and enjoy a bitter Negroni.

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