Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cheers to the Deliciously Stylish Negroni

a chilled Negroni ready to go; SwF

the three ingredients necessary for the classic Negroni cocktail; SwF

One of my favourite films is "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone," adapted from a novel by Tennessee Williams. This 1961 production features Vivien Leigh as recently widowed and now retired stage actress Karen Stone, who moves to Rome to start a new life. She is introduced to a fascinatingly sinister contessa, Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales, played perfectly by Lotte Lenya. The contessa procures for Mrs. Stone a manipulative, deceitful, and temperamental gigolo named Paolo, played by Warren Beatty. The story follows the doomed affair of Karen and Paolo in glamorous Roman cafe and nightclub society.

vintage movie poster of "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone," Wikipedia

As much as for the human story, the characters, and the dialogue, I admire Leigh and Lenya as forces of nature, as well as the beautiful Roman settings and art direction of the film. Leigh is dressed entirely in Pierre Balmain couture, and looks exquisitely regal throughout.

Several times throughout the movie, the contessa and Mrs. Stone drink an Italian cocktail called a Negroni. I decided to find out what this drink was and try one. I was pleasantly surprised. The drink was created in the early 20th century. It consists of an ounce of gin, an ounce of Campari, and an ounce of red Vermouth, and a twist of orange peel. It is not to everyone’s taste, being somewhat bitter and considered a drink for the mature. It is a perfect aperitif; the bitter aspect tantalizes the tastebuds. I’ve come to quite like them, and was fascinated by the history of the drink.

According to the, “It was invented in the early 1900s by a Florentine aristocrat, Count Camillo Negroni. The count asked a bartender to add some bite to his preferred cocktail, the Americano. With an addition of gin, an instant classic was conceived, and the Negroni became the Count's new favorite.”

Next time you want to stimulate your appetite, and conversation at a party or social event, order the sophisticated Negroni; for a moment you'll feel like you're in Rome.

Cheers to the Negroni.


  1. Our minds think very much alike! Many years ago when I was in a Tennessee Williams phase I also came across “The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone” and like you was fascinated with the Negroni, did my research and voila as a result started drinking Negronis. See my post on Savoir Faire.

    The book and the film rank up there as being favourites in both categories. It was amazing that Vivien Leigh played both Blanch in Streetcar and Mrs Stone, who were both similar characters, and maybe mirrored her own personal life. I found the film incredibly stylish and it definitely re- created the mood of Rome in the 1950’s. Warren Beatty was perfect as Paolo and Lotte Lenya was wonderful as the Contessa. (It is a pity most only remember her as the sadistic Rosa Klebb). The Balmain wardrobe was stunning!

  2. That is so funny; we are indeed writing on the same page. I watched some excerpts of the recent production with Helen Mirren as Karen Stone. I didn't think I'd like it, but it looks quite good. Of course the version with Vivien and Lotte will always be my favourite. I've not read the book, but it is on my list to read.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. An excellent mid-afternoon drink as it won't put you under the table. And aren't they easy to make?

  4. I'll have to give this a try. I'm ready for an excellent mid-afternoon drink right now! Thanks for the suggestion ... Mark

  5. You have to read the book! It is one of my favourites! I have yet to see the Helen Mirren production.

  6. The director dismissed Warren Beatty as a contender for the role of Paulo fearing nobody would "buy" him as an Italian. So Warren posed as an Italian room service boy and delivered food to the director in his hotel room. The rest is history.
    You can substitute Campari with Aperol if you prefer a less bitter Negroni.
    X David, NYC