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Il Cardinale, a Less-Sweet Negroni Variation

This recipe for a less-sweet version of the Negroni subs in dry vermouth for the usual sweet, one of the many variations featured in the excellent new book, Italy Cocktails.

Cardinale cocktail

Il Cardinale, a Cinzano cocktail featured in Paul Feinstein’s book, Italy Cocktails. Photo: Marisa Lynch and Meredith Stisser

Italian cocktail culture finally gets its bible with Paul Feinstein's definitive new book, Italy Cocktails—An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by Italia. To source the recipes, the veteran food and travel writer looked to bars and brands from Italy to the United States and beyond, resulting in a collection that spans aperitivo to digestivo and everything in between. You'll find Negroni variations such as the Il Cardinale, featured below, along with useful advice on assembling the perfect Italian bar cart, knowing your way around Italian vermouths, and much more.

The Cardinale was invented in 1950 by Giovanni Raimondo at the Excelsior Hotel in Rome. The story goes that it was made for a visiting Cardinal from Germany. But whatever the origin (there are competing claims of versions from 1926 and 1947, of course), the Cardinale is really just a Negroni that uses dry vermouth instead of sweet and is a bit lighter in color. Accordingly, the taste is less sweet than a Negroni, so if your taste buds lend themselves to less sugary vibes, you might want to give Il Cardinale a try.

Excerpted with permission from Italy Cocktails — An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by Italia by Paul Feinstein published by Cider Mill Press, December 2023.

Il Cardinale Cocktail

Il Cardinale Cocktail

Recipe by Giovanni Raimondo
4.0 from 1 vote


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 oz. 1 gin

  • ½ oz. Campari

  • ¾ oz. Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth


  • Fill a rocks glass with ice.
  • Pour all the ingredients directly into the rocks glass and stir.
  • Garnish with lemon zest.

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