When Louie Catizone’s wife showed him the viral TikTok, he didn’t think much of it.
@hbomax I’ll take one of each. #houseofthedragon ♬ a negroni sbagliato w prosecco l hbo max – hbomax
In the viral post, Emma D’Arcy — who plays Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in HBO’s House of Dragons — said their “drink of choice” was a Negroni Sbagliato, a variation on the traditional drink that swaps the cocktail’s traditional gin for Prosecco.
After the video was posted, Catizone’s personal cell number — which is listed on Google Maps for his business — began to ring with inquiries about the Negroni Sbagliato. His retail clients asked for cases. They received “dozens” of messages on Instagram, doubling the usual rate.
So, Catizone took advantage: On Thursday, St. Agrestis released a limited edition, pre-made Negroni Sbagliato in eight-pack form. The drink received orders in the “hundreds” — the most the website has ever received in a single day, he said. This week, Catizone and St. Agrestis will be making a 2,000-liter run of the pre-made product – likely the largest one ever, he estimates.
But the popularity of the drink has not stopped there.
Julka Villa, CMO of Italy-based Campari Group, which owns the widely-known eponymous bitter for the Negroni and Negroni Sbagliato (as well as brands like SKYY Vodka) told Entrepreneur that they have seen “massive” search increases since the TikTok was posted.
“Never was a person more straightforward, clear, and inviting. That is the power of virality,” Villa added.
What is a Negroni Sbagliato?
A traditional Negroni has three ingredients in equal parts: gin, a bitter, (most often the Italian Campari), and sweet vermouth.
The lighter Prosecco, adds a “zippy” note, Catizone said, along with the “earthy, herbaceous, note from the vermouth, and the bracingly bitter red aperitif.”
The Washington Post I Getty Images
Why did the Negroni Sbagliato go viral?
HBO debuted House of Dragons in late August. In an interview clip posted on October 1, D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke (who plays Queen Alicent Hightower in the show) answered questions from cards, including “What’s your drink of choice?” Emma D’Arcy said, “A Negroni… Sbagliato… with Prosecco in it.”
Cooke replies, in a Northern English accent, “Oh, stunnin’.”
“It’s incredible how effective it was, that video,” Villa said. “I think Emma D’Arcy interpreted the nature of this cocktail in a way that couldn’t have been possible if [they were] briefed.”
The actor demonstrated the intrigue, and relaxed nature they try to convey with Campari/negroni brand, in “just six words,” Villa added.
D’Arcy, meanwhile, has said since they are “so embarrassed” it became a meme.
The video first gained traction in LGBTQ TikTok (D’Arcy is nonbinary) and joking videos emerged that the drink was becoming popular at lesbian bars. Part-time bartender Sib Irizarry, who also works in fashion, saw interest in the drink pick up pretty much right away at South Beach Bar and Grill in East Orange, NJ.
“We don’t even sell Negronis,” they said.
But now they do. The bar had to order cases of Campari and Prosecco. Irizarry said they made probably three times more Negroni’s and variants so far in October than all of September.
Other bars are feeling the spritz, too.
Hank Tolley, a full-time bartender at Midnights, a bar in Brooklyn, New York, told Entrepreneur that he had made “hardly any” Negronis or variants in September. Now, he makes six to ten a week, and he said it hasn’t slowed down.
It works for him because he likes to see people try other cocktails.
“I’ve seen people kind of groan about it like it’s a bad thing, but the Spagliato is a classic, delicious drink, Tolley said. “It’s almost easier to make than a negroni,” because it requires a little less stirring, he added.
Even brands like Four Loko have taken part:
Sbagliato is actually Italian for Loko
— Four Loko (@fourloko) October 24, 2022
Villa said Campari sales have been growing for the last few years, and that the company has been doubling down on U.S. marketing since 2013 with its Negroni Week event. The week grew from about a hundred bars to into the thousands this past year.
The TikTok was “sort of cherry on the cake,” Villa said.