The wheels of the trend cycle for cocktails never stop spinning, and as a new season is upon us, it is therefore time for a new It Drink. The drink of last summer was the ’90s revival of the Espresso Martini; this summer it was the Dirty Shirley, and now, thanks to Emma D’Arcy of House of the Dragon, this fall may exalt the Negroni Sbagliato into our next drink of the moment.
When asked what their favorite drink was in an interview with HBO Max, D’Arcy responded with “Negroni Sbagliato...with prosecco in it,” their voice a sly, confident flirtation that conjures the feeling of someone gently placing their hand on your back in a crowded bar and saying “excuse me.” It doesn’t take much for the internet to be hot and bothered, so a famous bisexual confidently sharing their favorite drink with the pronunciation that proves they’ve been to Italy at least once, is enough to turn Twitter into a frenzy, and for me to consider telling the manager at the restaurant I bartend at to consider stocking extra Campari for the weekend.
For what it’s worth, a Negroni Sbagliato is divine. (I strongly prefer it over a Dirty Shirley, which tastes not unlike a melted popsicle.) While a Negroni is equal parts sweet vermouth, gin, and Campari, a Negroni Sbagliato subs the gin for prosecco, not unlike a Campari spritz. I’ve long thought sparkling wine cocktails are generally underrated, and can think of few things more glamorous in this world than a French 75 (gin, prosecco, lemon juice, and simple syrup, served in a flute with a twist).
The Cocktail of the Moment bandwagon is easy to jump on for a couple of reasons: It’s a low buy-in to be part of a trend; the drinks tend to be photogenic, boozy, slightly cumbersome to make, and have an air of drama, i.e. you can take a photo of a drink in a martini glass without having to drink a martini. But the biggest reason we have trend cocktails is because people famously don’t like making decisions.
When you go to a restaurant or a bar, you’re faced with an unnerving amount of questions people are shockingly unprepared for, which is proven to me weekly by the stupefied look I see in the eyes of people when I ask them how they want their eggs cooked, or in how easy it is to sell a special that costs double the price of a happy hour drink and customers say “I’ll try that,” before I’m halfway through explaining it.
What’s really compelling about the video isn’t the ingredients of a Negroni Sbagliato; it’s that D’Arcy knows what they want. That conviction is what people are thirsting after, not Campari. You can order anything as long as its with conviction, which makes trend cocktails so appealing. (Note: If you do order a Negroni Sbagliato, as much as you want to imitate D’Arcy, you don’t need to say “with prosecco,” because it already has prosecco. Asking for prosecco would be like ordering a margarita “with tequila.”)
Being confident while ordering drinks is attractive; Carrie Bradshaw is famous for her Cosmopolitan, James Bond for his shaken, not stirred martini. Trend drinks buck tradition; while a martini is like a classic fur coat, a Dirty Shirley is like a tooth gem; if you’re not going to order it confidently, what’s the point?
Cocktail knowledge is cumbersome. When I’m out with friends, they ask me to explain ingredients on the cocktail menu and half the time, I can’t. There is simply too much to know. It’s much easier to ask for an Espresso Martini. I have never been annoyed by someone ordering an Espresso Martini. I have been annoyed by the many people who apologized to me and referenced the article about bartenders reportedly “hating” the drink. (If you feel that bad, you can also just tip more.)
But it’s okay to like an It Drink; most of them are delicious, and I for one can’t wait for the Appletini renaissance. Alcohol, like many things, is not that serious. A lot of people don’t really care about what they’re drinking; they just want to feel connected to something, and it’s a lovely thing for an entire table to order a new drink and bond over experiencing it together. Life is filled with tiny, insignificant decisions, and having a confident, gorgeous celebrity make one of these decisions for you is a gift.