If you haven’t heard the buzz surrounding the Negroni cocktail and the soundbite from “House of the Dragon” (HoTD) star Emma D’Arcy that lends perfectly to the TikTok viral playbook, you might have been living under a rock for the past two weeks.
At the beginning of the month, HBO Max released a video (currently with 15.9 million views on TikTok) of stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, who play Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower respectively, from an interview series in which they answered a few questions so fans can get to know them a little better. What we’re sure HBO Max wasn’t ready for was the answer, and subsequent internet explosion, that came from D’Arcy when prompted by Cooke as to the actor’s favorite drink of choice.
“Negroni… Sbagliato… with Prosecco in it,” answers D’Arcy, to which Cooke responds, “oh, stunning,”….and suddenly every person on the internet questions their sexuality. (And I find a reason to say, “stunnin’,” in Cooke’s accent at any chance I can get.)
@hbomax I’ll take one of each. #houseofthedragon ♬ a negroni sbagliato w prosecco l hbo max – hbomax
While it may have been the raspy, low-toned, unintentionally (we think) sultry way D’Arcy delivered the answer, the moment has also given a new spotlight to a classic cocktail. As a cocktail novice myself, I was curious about the Negroni – what it is, tastes like, why would you add prosecco – and wanted to find out more. I also wanted to see if the viral sensation had hit the Big Easy. So, I reached out to the team at Cure and asked bartender Gina Hoover all my burning questions.
First, I was curious about the Negroni cocktail in general, and what in the world “Sbagliato” was or meant.
“Sbagliato means mistake,” Hoover told me. “A Negroni is composed with equal parts of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. The sbagliato came into existence in 1967 when Maurizio Stocchetto was making a Negroni at Bar Basso in Milan and in a kismatic accident, grabbed a bottle of spumoni (sparkling wine) instead of the gin.” Not only are we getting a new cocktail idea for our next night out, HoTD has inspired a history lesson for the ages.
Additionally, and never having tasted the cocktail myself, I wanted to see if the “mistake” or sbagliato with prosecco was worth the hype that D’Arcy was now giving it. “It is something I am in support of, proofing a cocktail down to fit the temperament of the drinker is something I am always an advocate for,” shared Hoover. “Sbagliato is essentially a spritz and in my mind is made for leisure and idle time, whereas I would consider a Negroni to be a cocktail with a more pragmatic nature.”
“Internet trends are something I tend to shy away from,” continued Hoover, “but at least this is one with taste. My rationale is best described by Cure’s founder Neal Bodenheimer in his book ‘Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em’ work perfectly as to why, [he says] ‘The Negroni is great because it’s a hedge, in the best possible way. It’s light, but also not; it’s sweet, but also bitter; it’s perfect for aperitivo hour, but also last call.’”
So, with all the recent uproar, I assumed the heightened popularity – especially with a younger crowd who may have never even heard of the drink before D’Arcy – would have hit New Orleans bars by now, but Hoover says not yet. “It hasn’t happened yet, but [tonight is] Friday night so I’m curious to see how many bottles of Campari I go through. Honestly, I am not at all upset about this trend, I hope it encourages people to be less afraid of bitter components and this is essentially putting training wheels on for a future Negroni drinker.”
I’m not sure I’m yet convinced I will enjoy a Negroni or Negroni Sbagliato with Prosecco (and yes, I say it in D’Arcy’s voice every time), but Gina Hoover and Emma D’Arcy have done a good job in persuading me I should at least try both the original and the spritzy version. After all, D’Arcy now plays a Targaryen Queen… and we must always obey the Queen.
In an interview with the New York Times, D’Arcy reacted to the internet explosion saying, “I feel so embarrassed. Because in those interviews, when we’ve been at it for six hours, I’m honestly only trying to make Olivia laugh.”
Additionally, Queen Alicent posted a story on her Instagram page sharing what looks like a “stunnin’” Negroni Sbagliato with the Princess herself.
Editor Ashley McLellan also wanted to get in on the cocktail conversation and wondered is the orange peel on the rim necessary and does it really numb your lips or is that a myth?
“We use an orange moon rather than a twist due to its relation to a spritz,” said Hoover. “The effervescence of the cocktail pops bubbles exuding bitter orange coming from Campari into the drinker’s senses. This might explain the pop rocks sensation that could feel mildly disorienting or numbing. The twist that we would use for a classic negroni would be expressed on top and on the sides of the drink so the drinker would smell the orange before taste and would get on the hand of the drinker to further immerse them into their drinking experience.”