“I’m getting DMs almost every hour from people all over.”
A local liquor store is taping nips into rapid-fire negronis, and the demand is outpacing supply.
It was the negroni pour heard round the world.
On Oct 3, Instagram account @togroni posted a short video in which 50ml nips of Campari, Carpano Antica vermouth, and Botanist gin—bound together with packing tape—were overturned above an ice-filled glass, creating a perfectly balanced cocktail in seconds. The video, which garnered over 5,000 views, was captioned with five simple words: “Crack, crack, crack, and pour.”
Subsequent posts saw “Togronis” deployed around Boston locales, including Newbury Street, the Public Garden, and Thomas Park. There’s a good reason for its local provenance: The Togroni is the brainchild of Boston resident Nick O’Connell, who works as a fine wine consultant at Post Road Liquors in Wayland, one of four area liquor stores owned by his family.
It all began when his brother, who also works in the family business, told O’Connell that Campari comes in the micro-sized bottle format known as a “nip.”
“I had no idea that Campari made nips, but I’m a huge negroni guy,” O’Connell says. “The first thing that pops in my head is, ‘I wonder if Antica or any other vermouth makes nips?”
As it turned out, Carpano Antica was the sole vermouth nip on the market. O’Connell ordered nips of the sweet vermouth, Campari, and Botanist gin and bound them together with heavy-duty packing tape.
“It was hysterical. All of my coworkers were like, ‘This is the most bootleg thing I’ve ever seen,’” he says.
They may have looked bootleg, but O’Connell was soon selling them—legally—from Wayland Liquors. By creating a Togroni SKU in the store’s system, all three could be rung up together for the price of $9.98: a relative bargain in the age of $15 cocktails.
The public seemed to agree. Over 100 Togronis were sold in the first week, and more than 500 have been sold to date, both at Post Road Liquors and Upper Falls Liquors in Newton. The combo’s success has even put Botanist nips on backorder, after O’Connell ordered 400 of them for Togroni-making.
Meanwhile, the Togroni continued to gain traction on social media, leading to an outpouring of demand that O’Connell couldn’t fill.
“I’m getting DMs almost every hour from people all over the world,” he says. “Greece, Australia, Guatemala. Brazil. Everybody wants me to ship [Togronis] to them, and it’s not legal to do that.”
However, O’Connell’s creation inspired tributes from other Instagram users, most notably author and WM Brown magazine publisher Matt Hranek, who initially shared it with his more than 72,000 followers on Oct 17. Hranek, who is working on an upcoming negroni book, has since connected with O’Connell and the two have discussed a possible collaboration.
This isn’t the first time O’Connell has tapped into his entrepreneurial side. In 2013 he founded Cask Force, which sells barrel-aged Vermont maple syrups, among other products. The runaway success of his Togroni might come down to its fun factor: What cocktail lover wouldn’t delight in its DIY appearance or negroni-in-seconds actionability?
But there’s also a practical side to the invention. Thanks to the equal size of the nips (each holds about 1.69 ounces of alcohol) the resulting negroni is made in the ideal 1:1:1 ratio every time.
“People always think that they’re doing you a favor by adding a little too much gin and not making a proper negroni,” O’Connell says. “So, it’s really a flawless way to have a perfect negroni anywhere you are.”
It’s been a tough year for cocktail lovers, but the Togroni has proven to be an intoxicating ray of sunshine.
Eric Twardzik is a Boston-based writer and editor with extensive experience in branded copywriting and journalism with an emphasis on food, drink, travel and men's lifestyle.