The Viral Cocktail Bobby Flay Considers One Of His Favorites

For true Negroni lovers, there's no wrong way to enjoy this classic bittersweet drink. However, there is a version in which the name might suggest otherwise. In Italian, the word "sbagliato" means "mistaken" or "wrong," but the Negroni sbagliato is a drink that celebrity chef Bobby Flay thinks is more than just alright — in fact, it's his favorite.

In a conversation with his daughter Sophie on their podcast, "Always Hungry," Bobby breaks the news that this riff on the classic cocktail is one of his favorites. The Negroni sbagliato, which has gone viral thanks to "Game of Thrones" star Emma D'Arcy, who name-checked the drink in an interview, is a simple twist on the three-ingredient structure of a Negroni (classically equal parts Campari, gin, and vermouth), in this case omitting the gin and topping it off with Prosecco. The result is a bittersweet drink that has an effervescence absent from the original, in kind of a cross between a Negroni and a spritz. It also has a lower alcohol by volume as compared to its bitter red cousin, which makes it an ideal sipper for those who are more sensitive to booze.

Sbagliato history, wrong or right?

The story of the Negroni sbagliato is as charming as the drink itself. Legend has it that bartender Mirko Stocchetto at Bar Basso (a historic and still-operating bar in Milan — a city with a deep and storied cocktail culture) is behind an iconic error. Apparently, during a particularly busy rush in the early 1970s, a patron ordered a Negroni, but Stocchetto erroneously grabbed a bottle of Prosecco in place of gin, and the cocktail was born.

And while that's a charming and concise story, Stocchetto's son, Maurizio — who still works at Bar Basso today — believes it was more calculated. His father, a professional bartender who had an eye for trends and a keen awareness of the needs of his guests, was already developing drinks to be more sippable than the strong Negroni and martinis that were so popular. If he did, in fact, grab that bottle by mistake, his decision to serve the drink — and continue serving it — was probably anything but.

More Negroni variations

While Bobby Flay and Emma D'Arcy may reach for that bottle of Prosecco when a cocktail craving strikes, there are actually many ways to enjoy the Negroni's beloved balance of bitter and sweet beyond the traditional recipe. A Milano-Torino is a variation that omits the gin altogether and is simply equal parts vermouth and Campari, making it another ideal low-alcohol version of the classic. An Americano swaps out the Prosecco of the sbagliato but keeps the fizz by topping it off with soda water. And then there's a white negroni, for which Campari and sweet vermouth are substituted with dry vermouth and Lillet, giving the drink a honey-colored hue and a slightly floral flavor profile.

There are also many recipes for a Negroni that swap the base spirit, like the Boulevardier, which relies on bourbon instead of gin for a richer, slightly sweeter result, or a Oaxacan Negroni that utilizes mezcal and has a moody, smoky character. Whether you prefer bitter or sweet, powerful or light, sparkling or still, much like Bobby, you can find an irresistible Negroni cocktail that's exactly your style.