The Smoked Negroni


Located in the famous McCormick Mansion of Chicago’s River North neighborhood, SideDoor touts itself as a contemporary, American gastropub. In a city saturated with great bars and restaurants, the recently opened establishment sets itself apart by mixing the feel of a neighborhood watering hole with that of an upscale eatery. Sandwiches include the seven ounce Angus beef SideDoor Cheeseburger and smoke pastrami with giardiniera and cheese rarebit on a pretzel roll, and small bites include mouth-watering prime rib chili cheese fries and spicy glazed chicken wings.

Beverage Director Andrew Macker suggests pairing one of SideDoor’s hearty meals with a cocktail from the expansive drinks menu, and he recommends starting with his Smoked Negroni with Aperol, FEW barrel aged gin, Punt e Mes, and smoked ice cubes.

“While developing the spirits and cocktail menu for SideDoor, I wanted to ensure each cocktail paired well with the food items,” says Macker. “I decided to smoke water for a more balanced aroma in the large 2×2-inch smoked ice cubes, which ends up adding a slightly bitter component to the cocktail.” He uses Aperol instead of Campari to cut back on extra bitter flavors, added the Punt e Mes to add sweetness and a lemon peel for a zesty, citrus finish. “This gives the cocktail an unmistakable aroma of smoke and lemon, without compromising the true ingredients of one of my favorite craft cocktails.” Here's how to make it at home.

SideDoor's Smoked Negroni 

  • 1 oz Aperol (an Italian aperitif that is similar to Campari, but lighter, not as bitter with more citrus notes)
  • 1 oz FEW Barrel Aged Gin (a gin from FEW in Evanston, IL, that is aged in Oak barrels, giving the gin more structure and balance)
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes (an Italian Sweet Vermouth, which is slightly more bitter than sweet)


These 3 ingredients are combined in a beaker with ice and stirred, then poured over a Smoked Ice Cube (water that has been smoked in-house with hickory chips) then frozen into 2×2-inch cubes.  The peel of a lemon is stuck between the ice cube and the glass, adding another aromatic to the cocktail.