The Negroni is Libertine (7927 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-862-2999) owner Nick Luedde's favorite drink. The simple, classic cocktail is made with gin, vermouth and Campari, which, Luedde says, makes it refreshing and perfect for summer. So when his friends at the Bartenders' Guild approached him about being the St. Louis ambassador for the national fundraising Negroni Week, it was a no-brainer.
Luedde got about twenty of his restaurant friends to participate, and it's basically a who's-who of the St. Louis culinary scene. Each spot will serve its own twist on the Negroni for the next week, and proceeds will go to a local charity of its choice. Participants include Planter's House, Niche, Taste, Blood & Sand, the Good Pie, Central Table Food Hall, Cleveland-Heath, Quincy Street Bistro, Sidney Street Cafe, Element, Juniper and more.
"I drink them all the time, but I think for my purposes, it's perfectly balanced," Luedde says. "Bright, but still has that herbaciousness. It's a simple drink, a three-component cocktail, but still really bright. It just really tastes like summer."
The Libertine will be slinging the "Sprezzatura":
1.5 oz North Shore Aquavit (From Illinois) 0.75 oz Campari 0.75 oz arugula house-infused Dolin Blanc Vermouth Splash of hous-made Fennel Seed & Greek Oregano Tincture
All contents placed into a glass filled with rocks and stir vigorously.
Its charity is Operation Food Search, which helps needy families get access to food. Luedde says the charity's mission is something that has always been important to him and his staff. Negroni Week runs until June 8; you can find a list of the restaurants here.
"Everybody's been really supportive from Ted Kilgore to Kevin Nashan -- even Gerard [Craft] jumped in," Luedde says. "It was nice to have the big group jump in to do something we love, but also donate to charity."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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