Here at PretentiousPDX, we’re always looking for ways to up the ante on our pretension factor, which is why I was so excited when I got my summons to this year’s invite-only Negroni Social. After all, what’s more pretentious than talking about an event that’s not open to the general public? There’s a method to my madness, however, so read on to find out why you should care about an event you probably won’t be attending.
For the uninitiated, The Negroni is a classic cocktail from the early 20th century constructed around three key ingredients: London Dry Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari. It’s a riff on an even earlier cocktail, The Americano – which used soda water in place of gin. (Much like spending an afternoon with yours truly, this family of cocktails is vastly more enjoyable when you replace the soda water with MORE LIQUOR.)If you’re a follower of Portland’s bar and restaurant scene, you’ve probably heard mention of The Negroni Social and/or Negroni Week. Now in its fifth year, The Negroni Social is the brainchild of Douglas Derrick and Nicholas Suhor: a combination industry-only costume party and fundraiser benefiting local charity Outside In, which helps homeless youth and other marginalized individuals. Since starting in 2010, the Social has grown into one of Portland’s best known and most successful cocktail events, raising over $13,000 for Outside In to date and attracting a host of sponsors (this year’s sponsor list includes Campari America, Imbibe Magazine, Nostrana, Jacobsen Salt Company, Bull in China, PDX Ice, Phototainment, and several other local businesses). In 2013, Imbibe Magazine and Campari took the concept national, launching Negroni Week, a weeklong celebration at well over a thousand bars and restaurants worldwide. Traditionally, Negroni Social has always been held at Nostrana, but the success of the event has led the Social to migrate this year to new digs at Jacobsen Salt Company’s event space in Southeast Portland. This year’s theme is Back To The Negroni, so we can expect many classic fifties outfits to be on display at the June 1st Negronis Under the Sea Dance. Rumour has it that there might even be a DeLorean on site. The cocktail situation at Negroni Social promises to be pretty off the chain, too. Douglas Derrick has developed an amphorae-aged Negroni which will be served to guests as they arrive (I asked Event Coordinator Natalia Toral and Social Media Coordinator Doniree Walker why they were trying to age Negronis in what’s essentially a large urn, and their collective response was basically “Uh, why not? Also, cause it sounds AWESOME?”), and there will be twelve different Negroni variations crafted by bartenders from all over the world – including offerings from local luminaries Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Clyde Common / Pepe Le Moko) and Peter Carpenter (Nostrana) and places as far away as Rome (Antonio Parlapiano / The Jerry Thomas Speakeasy).
So at this point, you’re probably thinking “Ok, Yume. It’s nice that you get to go and all, but why should I give a shit?” Well, for one thing, why can’t you just be happy for me? Not everything is about you, you know. But since I promised you a moral to this story, there are two ways you can get in on the Negroni love:
First, head over to negroniweek.com and find a bar near you. From 1 June to 7 June, all participating bars will be donating a portion of their Negroni sales to local charities.
Second, if you live in Portland and are reading this article as it comes out (as you should), Eater.com is giving away a pair of tickets to Negroni Social. head over to their website to enter. As of this writing, there were only about 30 comments, so your chances are pretty good – but hurry, as the contest ends 26 May.
Negroni Social (negronisocial.org)
1 June 2015
Portland, Oregon – by invite only
Negroni Week (negroniweek.com)
1 – 7 June 2015
Outside In (outsidein.org)