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In Cocktails and Business, Integration is the Key to Success

I was enjoying a bar seat at one of my favorite local restaurants. It’s a special place that welcomes your entry, guides the pleasure of your meal, and leaves you feeling lighter when you leave.

An elegant couple sat down beside me and placed their order with the bartender – a Manhattan and a Negroni.

As with most classic drinks, the Negroni has an iconic origin story: “The most widely reported version of this drink’s origin is that it was invented at Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy in 1919. Legend tells that Count Camillo Negroni asked his friend, bartender Forsco Scarselli, to strengthen his favorite cocktail – the Americano – by replacing the soda water with gin. Scarselli added an orange garnish, rather than the lemon you’d usually get with an Americano, and the drink took off.”

Back to the bar. After a few indulgent sips indicating the drinks were as advertised, the couple asked the bartender what gin was used in the Negroni. The bartender’s answer to their question gave me a lightbulb moment.

A Negroni is a three part cocktail composed of gin, sweet red vermouth, and Campari, garnished with an orange peel. The Campari is standard, no questions there, and while the gin does affect the flavor, it’s not as much as people think. Vermouth makes the drink, acting as the middle agent to tie together the gin and Campari, and in this case the restaurant chose well.

The question and resulting idea created a connection. Just as there are three parts to a Negroni, there are three integral elements to your business cocktail – strategy, tools, and integration.

Everyone asks about your strategy (gin), assumes you have the tools (Campari), and treats integration (vermouth) like an afterthought. Successful companies put the emphasis differently, using seamless integration as their main focus.

If your strategy isn’t working as advertised, check the ingredients; you might have the wrong vermouth.


Negroni origin story reference:

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