I have seen the Futurism: the Negroni

Above: A Negroni at Annies in Austin, the latest addition to the restaurant and nightlife scene here. Not bad for a snap taken with my Blackberry Curve, eh?

No one needs me to retell the story of the Negroni: the tale of Count Camillo Negroni and the cocktail named after him has been retold countless times (however apocryphal those chestnuts may be).

But what few remember these days is that the Negroni was one of the favorite cocktails of the Futurists, the avant-garde movement founded in 1913 by F.T. Marinetti (often called the father of the historical avante-garde). The Negroni — made with Campari, the quintessential Futurist bitters — was one of their polibibite or polybeverages, each intended to stimulate the idealized Futurist (in one way or another).

Yesterday evening, when I tasted a Negroni at the newly opened Annies Café and Bar on Congress in downtown Austin, I couldn’t help but think of the Futurist banquet I attended in 1993 at the Getty Villa in Malibu. (A few years later, I worked as one of the bibliographers of the Marinetti archive at the Getty’s Special Collections.)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Futurism and the historical avante-garde were essentially self-destructive movements, like much of twentieth-century critical theory: by destroying its fathers (and mothers, for that matter), the historical avante-garde presupposed its own destruction by future generations.

But the cocktails sure were good…

The Negroni at Annies wasn’t bad (although it should have served with an orange wedge or orange zest). The Lousiana-style gumbo I sampled wasn’t bad either. Seems like they have a few kinks to iron out there but I’ll be back: I liked the feel of the place, the hipster mixology, and the old-time music they had going.