Apologies for the lack of visual for this post - I have no idea what happened to the relevant photograph, but it's time to put this series to bed either way. The final bar on my Negroni Week list was Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square. I went there Sunday evening for dinner and the completion of my quest.
Trina's is a homey place, cool and dark on the inside. They advertise "drinks and air conditioning" on a sign above the entrance.
Their service station looks like a house kitchen, with mid-century powder-blue cabinets and a squat white fridge of similar vintage, covered in magnets. The whole place is decorated with Americana, most especially advertising signage and old cocktail shakers. Dark wood paneling suggests a pub or tavern past.
It's clearly a regulars' bar; the bartender was bidding a patron farewell by name as I sidled up. On Mondays, they have an industry brunch, to cater to folks for whom Monday is the weekend. There's surprisingly little of this type for Boston's barkeeps and restauranteurs, and Trina's is well-known and respected for it.
As for the cocktail, it was the most classic, archetypical Negroni I'd had all week. It tasted like a bitter orange peel with a burst of sweetness. A good ruminating drink. It was the right way to finish the experiment.
This week forced me to give more consideration than I ever had to the Negroni, naturally, and to its role in the wider cocktail world. In the end, I come back around to the bold and bitter classic recipe as the proper standard version of the cocktail - although if many are to be consumed in a fairly short period, a lighter variation is definitely preferable.
I do come down more harshly on the game of ingredient substitution than I did before we started all this. The Negroni is a recipe, not a category heading. Not everything containing potable bitters qualifies. The formula, though standard, is not fixed. It can be tweaked, stretched, and twirled around a spoon, if you like, but the end result should bear some resemblance to what was started with, if you're going to use the name.
Well done on that front at Trina's. It's also worth noting that their food is delicious (I'm assuming my experience is representative). I had a baked haddock to follow my Negroni, on a bed of sauteed spinach and sweet potato bacon hash. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. I highly recommend it.
Money from my Negroni went to the Sean A. Collier Memorial Fund. I expect Boston-area readers will recognize that name; the Fund will provide annual scholarships in his name at both MIT and the Boston Police Academy, and maintain a permanent memorial to him in Cambridge. The Globe has more detailed coverage, for those who are interested, but you don't have to read the article in order to donate.
This was a fascinating undertaking, from both the mixological and the philanthropic sides. My compliments to Imbibe and Campari for making Negroni Week a major, annual event; and to the 1,325 (at last count) participating bars around the world.
And if you missed out on the fun, don't worry: with numbers like that, they'll be back in 2015.