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Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Negroni


Hey, it’s the season for festive celebrations, partying, feasting and drinking so we figured that this recipe, by contemporary Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, for his version of the classic Italian cocktail, the Negroni, would come in handy for your New Year’s Eve parties!

“My favourite drink is the Negroni that I drank in Milan. I think it is the favourite of Louis Buñuel, but that could just have been a surrealist dream I had after too many Negronis.”

Rirkrit Tiravanija

We’re delighted that our festive cocktail pick seems to be quite on-trend too, as British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver just dubbed it his favourite Christmas cocktail and made it on-camera for none other than Will Smith on the Graham Norton Show.

“This is a really fine invention. It has the power, rare with drinks and indeed with anything else, of cheering you up.”

Kingsley Amis

Rirkrit’s Negroni recipe appears in the book Rirkrit Tiravanija: Cook Book – Just Smile and Don’t Talk published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name at Kunsthalle Bielefeld in 2010. The book contains a collection of 23 recipes for a variety of dishes, ranging from Pad Thai to Flaming Morning Glory.

Rirkrit doesn’t deviate from the classic Negroni recipe which consists, essentially, of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, with a slice of orange. He does helpfully specify his favourite brands. His Negroni is made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Cinzano Campari and Martini & Rossi sweet Vermouth and he suggests substituting a blood orange for the regular orange when it is in season.

In the spirit of Plural Plates, I did my best to comply but blood oranges are hard to come by in this part of the world, so I had to settle for a navel orange! If you can get hold of blood oranges, why not try and make your Negroni as Rirkrit suggests? Its red-coloured juice and distinctive flavour, said to contain overtones of berries, will likely make for a unique-tasting Negroni. Its juice also turns slightly bitter when exposed to air, enhancing the slightly bitter undertones in this cocktail.

Bombay Sapphire Gin, Cinzano Campari, Martini & Rossi sweet Vermouth and orange slices

“The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you, They balance each other.”

Orson Welles

Rirkrit’s recipe calls for 45 ml of each of the alcoholic ingredients to be mixed in a shaker or a glass, over ice, with an orange slice. Make sure the orange is mixed well with the ice and the liquors, to release its juices. If you use a cocktail measure, 45 ml is equal to a jigger, the larger cup of the hourglass-shaped measuring device commonly used in bar sets.

Pour your Negroni into a glass, holding back the ice and the orange slice, garnish with a fresh slice of orange and serve.

This drink is best enjoyed with good friends, whether human or canine!

R and M, enjoying their Negronis!
Rirkrit Tiravanija and a canine companion. Image taken from his cookbook

Since the 1990s, Rirkrit Tiravanija has sought to introduce the idea of social engagement to his artistic practice, often inviting viewers to inhabit and activate his work and blurring the distance between artist and viewer. In one of his best-known series, begun with pad thai at the Paula Allen Gallery in New York, Tiravanija converts the gallery into a kitchen, cooking and serving food to visitors. In these deceptively simple conceptual pieces, the artist invites the visitor to interact with contemporary art. Instead of merely looking at the art, the visitor is an essential part of it – in fact, becoming an active participant in the making of the the art.

We’re excited about his site-specific installation at the Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden of the National Gallery Singapore which will be open in January next year. It will comprise a bamboo maze and a wooden tea house, where visitors will be able to spend time in the space and participate in tea ceremonies conducted by tea masters.


[Note: Are you an artist with a recipe you’d like to share? Get in touch with us for a chat!]


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