A Negroni is a classic cocktail for good reason, but substitute gin with some sparkling wine and you have yourself a taste of the latest viral TikTok sensation: a Sbagliato.
A video of "House of the Dragon" stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke discussing their favorite drinks recently made the rounds on the video platform and has both fans of the show and food and drink enthusiasts buzzing.
"What's your drink of choice?" Cooke asks D’Arcy, reading from a piece of paper.
"A Negroni," D'Arcy responds without hesitation.
Cooke agrees, adding, "I was going to say the same thing," before D’Arcy tacks on, "Sbagliato. With prosecco in it."
"Oh, stunning," Cooke replies.
The video, posted by HBO Max on Oct. 1, has since been viewed more than 43,000 times and spawned viral audio that has been used in more than 26,000 other TikTok videos.
Interested in the origin of the drink and its nuances, "Good Morning America" asked an expert to break it down.
Jessica "Rabbit" King, co-owner of Brother Wolf in Knoxville, Tennessee, and an expert in all things Italian aperitivo culture, has curated a menu of 24 classic aperitivo cocktails that includes 11 variations of the Negroni and spritzes.
First, King said, "the pronunciation is 'spal-yagh-toh' without really pronouncing that 'g' in the middle of the word, lest a real Italian roll their eyes at us silly Americans."
"As the story goes, the owner of Bar Basso in Milan in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Mirko Stocchetto, was whipping up Negronis as usual for his regulars, but when he reached for the gin, someone had left a prosecco bottle in its place and thus the 'mistake' Negroni was born," she continued, referring to the name, which translates to "wrong" in Italian. "Clearly Mirko’s mistake was our gain, so cheers to him."
King would know: She closely studied aperitivo culture while living in in Rome and Milan for years, where tasty, small snacks are served with lower-proof cocktails.
"While at first glance ... the classic Negroni and Sbagliato variation seem quite similar, they are each wonderfully complex and interesting in their own way," she said.
"The classic Negroni, made with red bitter aperitivo, red vermouth and gin, has subtle complexity and a delicate balance of bitter, sweet and strength of spirit. The Sbagliato is lower proof, which many prefer," she continued. "The dry bitterness of the aperitivo is still offset by the juicy rich vermouth, however the Sbagliato substitutes gin with a sparkling wine such as prosecco or Franciacorta, eliminating the punch of higher proof liquor and creating a light, effervescent treat that can be enjoyed at any time of day or night."
King said she personally loves "all things bubbles" making a Negroni Sbagliato "an easy sell," and her cocktail bar staff "regularly suggest the Negroni Sbagliato as an easy intro to Negroni drinking."
The distinctive higher alcohol predecessor Negroni has of course been beloved by many for years. In 2020, Stanley Tucci lent his celebrity to bring the beverage to overnight fame during the pandemic with his handcrafted at-home version filmed for an Instagram video.
"A Negroni is comprised of three elements: the bitter, the sweet, and the spirit, each working in harmony with the other two," King said, noting each ingredient is added in 1-ounce measurements. "Each plays an equally important role and no one is the star of the show. Following this simple basic principal opens up a whole world of interpretation and experimentation. A Negroni should be balanced and the drinker should be able to distinguish each ingredient without one overpowering the other"
King was notably one of the 1.3 million people who liked the HBO TikTok video.
"I saw the video only hours after it came out, as I am a huge fan of 'House of the Dragon' and all things George R. R. Martin," she said.
For those like her who enjoyed the video and are now thinking of trying the viral drink, she added, "Ordering a Sbagliato at most bars shouldn’t be a challenge, provided they carry an aperitivo such as Select or Campari, they have stored their vermouth properly, and they have a fresh bottle of bubbles for the popping."