If you’re on a certain part of the internet (read: queer) you’ve surely already seen the latest sensation making everyone horny for Emma D’Arcy, or Campari, or Prosecco, or some combination of all three. In a now viral video, the House of the Dragon actor is being interviewed by their costar Olivia Cooke, who asks D’Arcy what their drink of choice is. D’Arcy then utters the phrase heard round the world: “A Negroni [dramatic pause] Sbagliato [dramatic pause] with Prosecco.”
“Stunning!” Cooke replied, and the rest of the internet seemed to agree, memeifying the cocktail to death within hours. But what of the bartenders of the world, who will surely be inundated with requests for the cocktail all week long? What do they think about the drink? And what the hell is a Sbagliato, anyway?
The Italian word “Sbagliato” roughly translates to “mistaken” or “wrong.” According to La Cucina Italiana, the roots of the cocktail can be traced back to 1972 at Milan’s Bar Basso, where bartender Mirko Stocchetto supposedly accidentally reached for Prosecco instead of gin when making a Negroni. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the cocktail gained popularity on Bar Basso’s menu, and by the 1990s it started to spread to bars across Italy. By now it’s featured on select menus around the world.
The drink itself is a simple recipe: Whereas a Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, garnished with an orange, a Negroni Sbagliato simply swaps out the gin for Prosecco (or any kind of sparkling wine, really). The result is a cocktail that tastes like a Negroni light—while the herbaceous notes of gin tend to enhance and complement Campari’s bitterness, the sweetness of the wine will tone it down.
This drink isn’t quite a spritz, which has a higher ratio of sparkling wine to aperitif, but the flavors will be similar. If you like an Aperol spritz, it wouldn’t be far off to give a Sbagliato a shot. If you want something extra boozy, use both gin and sparkling wine. For those seeking a premade version of the cocktail to enjoy at home, you can grab a pack of canned Pampelonne Negroni Sbagliato.
Ordering one out at the bar? Consider what these bartenders have to say first.
For some bartenders, this cocktail is nothing new. Rémy Walle, the head bartender at RPM Seafood in Chicago, says that, looking back over the past couple years, he estimates there’s been at least one Sbagliato order a month.
“Nowhere near espresso martinis or other currently popular drinks,” Walle says. “I’ve been seeing Sbagliato memes in my Instagram feed for the past week, though, so maybe that will change.”
For others, the Emma D’Arcy meme is an introduction to something new. Mike Vanderbilt, bartender at Rock Island Public House in Blue Island, Illinois (also voted Chicago’s Best Bartender of 2021), just heard about the Sbagliato for the first time this week.
“I wasn’t aware of this cocktail—but as a fan of the Americano and a ’70s enthusiast, I dig the vibe of this cocktail, this is definitely going to enter my repertoire,” Vanderbilt says. “It also helps that it’s ridiculously easy to make.”
While some bartenders are enthusiastic about making anything other than an espresso martini for once, it’s still worth exhibiting some patience while ordering a Sbagliato this week. Vanderbilt points out that not everyone is as “online” as some of us tend to be, and even huge House of the Dragon fans might not be aware of the cocktail trend that sprung from D’Arcy’s behind-the-scenes interview.
If saying the word “Sbagliato” garners funny looks from behind the bar, make sure you know the ingredients off the top of your head and order them in your custom cocktail individually. But if the bartender is slammed and a crowd of other patrons are waiting to order, opt for something else to sip on this time. You’ll get your Sbagliato in the future.
When you think about it, because “Sbagliato” means “wrong,” technically anything you get handed could be right.
“No one’s ordered that shit from me,” says Jordan Dillman, bartender at Paulie Gee’s Logan Square in Chicago. And if they did? “I’d say ‘okay,’ and then hand them a Diet Coke and a High Life instead.”