The Story Behind The Kingston Negroni

Meet the Kingston Negroni: a simple Negroni riff that swaps out gin for overproof, aged Jamaican rum, which is often characterized by the presence of “hogo.” For those unfamiliar with “hogo,” the term is derived from the French phrase “haut gout,” or “high game.” Originally used to describe game meat, it’s become part of the rum vernacular to express a funky, hard-to-explain quality, often compared to baking spices, overripe banana, and cut grass, with a light diesel undertone.

The story of the Kingston Negroni starts at Death & Co. in 2009. One fall afternoon, while bartenders Phil Ward and Joaquín Simó were behind the stick, Minnesota Liquor importer Eric Seed rolled into the NYC cocktail bar with a bottle of Smith & Cross navy-strength Jamaican rum in hand. The rum was greeted with positive reviews. Simó rolled up his sleeves and immediately got busy, building a rum Negroni from the jump with Ward’s “Mr. Potato Head” method of cocktail creation in mind — swapping one spirit for another in a preexisting recipe. The drink debuted on the bar’s spring menu in 2010, becoming an instant hit, particularly with hardcore spirits aficionados and fans of boozy, stirred cocktails.

While any Italian sweet vermouth will do the trick, Simó recommends Carpano Antica. “Smith & Cross is no shrinking violet, so it stands up to the bombastic chocolate and bitter orange notes in the vermouth while drying out the Campari’s richness and tempering its bitterness,” Simó explains in Robert Simonson’s “Modern Classic Cocktails.” One of the best things about the Kingston Negroni is how easy it is to make. For any home bartender or Negroni enthusiast, this drink offers a great change of pace, as the rum completely upends the original cocktail’s profile.


  • 1 ounce Jamaican rum, such as Smith & Cross
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth, such as Carpano Antica
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • Garnish: orange twist


  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir until chilled.
  3. Strain into a double rocks glass with ice.
  4. Garnish with an orange twist.

Rate This Recipe:

(110 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 196
Updated: 2023-06-29

The Kingston Negroni