What’s your favorite drink?
If, like me, you’re queer or extremely online or both (aka depressed), there’s a good chance I know.
Negroni? Sbagliato? With prosecco in it?
If this doesn’t mean anything to you, congratulations on your fulfilling, healthy life, but let me ruin things for you.
The line comes from a Sept. 22 “getting to know you” promotional YouTube video from HBO Max featuring House of the Dragon stars Emma D'Arcy (Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen) and Olivia Cooke (Queen Alicent Hightower), who only began playing their characters once there was a big time jump in the sixth episode.
In the video, the two actors answer questions about their favorite Game of Thrones characters and offer advice they have received across their careers.
But it’s one question in particular that has taken on a life of its own.
“What’s your drink of choice?” Cooke asks D’Arcy.
“A negroni,” D’Arcy responds, nodding after taking a moment to visibly think.
“I was going to say the same thing,” Cooke replies.
“Sbagliato,” D’Arcy interjects with a raise of their eyebrows.
“Ooh,” Cooke says.
“With prosecco in it,” D’Arcy says, leaning in as if to place a cherry on top of their answer.
“Oh, stunning!” Cooke replies, her eyes widening in awe.
If you’re not into cocktails or don’t have a drinking problem after the pandemic lockdowns like me, let me explain what exactly D’Arcy is talking about in a brief detour here.
A negroni is a classic Italian cocktail known for its vibrant red color. It contains equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, poured typically over ice and served with an orange twist that should be squeezed around the glass to extract its citrus oils. It is, quite frankly, delicious. (Pro tip: In winter, try ordering a boulevardier, which switches out the gin for bourbon or rye whiskey and is very comforting indeed.)
A negroni sbagliato is another variation on the same classic cocktail that swaps out the gin part for prosecco or another sparkling white wine (Yes, D’Arcy was being redundant by saying “with prosecco in it”). The drink gets its name from the Italian word for “mistaken,” owing to the legend that a bartender once put in the prosecco by accident. The end result is similar to a spritz, but still has a nice bitterness to it.
Now, my brain is fundamentally broken by virtue of having worked at BuzzFeed News for almost eight years, but it’s clear that I’m not the only one for whom D’Arcy’s answer — and its pitch-perfect delivery — has been ricocheting around the recesses of their mind for what feels like forever now.
Hell, even the New York Times has gotten in on it.
Its virality seems to be pegged to HBO Max putting up the clip on its TikTok account on Oct. 1, where it’s since racked up more than 9.7 million views.
For a clip about drinking, the top comments on TikTok are definitely, well, thirsty.
“The way they said ‘with Prosecco in it’ made me melt😩,” one user wrote.
“They said Prosecco in the most seductive way possible,” another said.
“I don’t want to even say what happens to me when Emma says Sbagliato,” yet another wrote.
Of course, though, it’s more than just thirst.
There’s a wonderful, palpable chemistry between the two actors in the very brief clip that is both warm and suggestive. The way D’Arcy keeps topping up their answer with fancier phrases and coy body language is also extremely, obviously, and scientifically cute. Bonus points also for their very cool pink ensemble and Robyn-esque haircut, which are extremely not in keeping with the character they play on the show.
But I also think Cooke, in particular, deserves enormous credit for the meme’s virality because she seems to stand in for us, the audience, by being visibly surprised, impressed, and charmed by her costar. Cooke’s delivery of “Oh, stunning!” in her charming Manchester accent is just delightful.
Let’s be clear, though. The meme has found its home primarily among the LGBTQ community, in part because of the chemistry between the pair, but also maybe because D’Arcy is nonbinary and because my beloved queer community has a penchant for memes where the repetition and ridiculousness of the thing is kind of the point.
As my friend Sam Corbett observed, “Negroni sbagliato with prosecco is the new Dakota Johnson’s limes. … An entire ecosystem of memes and content based on … five seconds of (cute!) video.”
(Again, if none of that made sense to you, it’s OK. I support your heterosexual lifestyle.)
So, yes, pour one out for all the bartenders who are soon going to be drowning in orders for negroni sbagliato (with prosecco in it).
Anyway, it’s officially gone past midday on Monday here on the US East Coast, which means it’s probably a socially acceptable time for me to crack out a cocktail for the sake of meme culture.