I am not the world's biggest Negroni fan, in truth. I blame this on my introduction to them; it was early in my cocktail-drinking days (say 2014 or so) and I had one served up in a random Seattle bar that was participating in Negroni Week. I had never had Campari (nor perhaps any amaro) before; I did not know what I was getting into, and I did not like it one bit. I swore off the drink until around 2016, when I found myself in Italy and after three days of ordering Aperol Spritzes (Aperols Spritz?) I was cajoled by my friend into ordering one.
Turns out that first Negroni I had was just terrible! This is a drink meant to be served on rocks and in the bathing summer sun, not in a chilled coupe in some poorly lit gastropub. You live and you learn.
I am still not the world's biggest Negroni fan, but I enjoy them every now and then, and finally found occasion to try this rum-based riff. It was — the word Haley and I both landed on was funky. The Smith & Cross can stand up to the Campari and it gives it a bit of saccharine emphasis that you definitely don't get from the traditional varietal. I would probably make this again just to sell a friend on it, but it's not something that I'm shouting from the rooftops about.