A cocktail is a journey—at least, such is the philosophy of Jacopo Rosito, the bartender at 54Mint whose variation on the beloved Negroni has won him the prestigious Bols Around the World cocktail competition. At home in San Francisco, Rosito is a something of a bartender celebrity, known for his Negroni. And it is no coincidence that he hails from Florence, Italy, where the cocktail was born.
7x7: Why the Negroni?
JR: I was working in a bar in Florence where I discovered my passion for bartending. My mentor was Luca Picchi, who is one of the main worldwide experts of the Negroni cocktail and has written many books on the topic.
7x7: What brought you to San Francisco?
JR: New Orleans, New York, Portland, and San Francisco are dream lands for any bartender. I chose SF because it fits perfectly my personality and my passions.
7x7: How does SF culture inspire your cocktails?
JR: San Francisco mixes eastern and western cultures. So as a tribute to its tolerance and welcoming of all kinds of people, I created my own version of the Old Fashioned, which is one of the most popular drinks in the city. I named it the Smoky Old Fashioned. I use genever with an infusion of Lapsang Souchong, a smoked Chinese tea. Then I decorate it with a cinnamon stick and orange peel.
7x7: What is the secret to making a good cocktail?
JR: First of all, balance—you find it by trying and trying, over and over again. Second, the quality of the raw materials, preferably local. And then passion. I believe that a bartender should always travel to discover new cultures and then integrate them into his cocktails. Researching traditions, revisiting them, honoring them in every glass.
7x7: Why change up the already-perfect Negroni?
JR: San Francisco inspired me. I created a twist that incorporates the Italian culture with an American attitude, which is open and welcoming. I named it Mediterranean Soul.
RECIPE: Mediterranean Soul
30 ml Campari
30 ml Cynar
1. Top up with homemade grapefruit & elderflower soda*
2. Garnish with orange zest and rosemary.
*Grapefruit & Elderflower Soda
Simply mix these ingredients:
350ml of fresh grapefruit juice
100ml of elderflower liquor
50ml of sugar syrup