Negroni Bars
Tangy Negroni Bars

Think of them as bar cookies you could order in a bar.

This boozy twist on lemon bars has it all going on: a salty pretzel crust with a sweet custard filling flavored with zesty orange and grapefruit juice, and cranked up with gin, Campari, and vermouth. Please eat responsibly.

Created by MasterChef alum, Elise Mayfield — aka Smart Cookie — these cookie bars are a snackable version of one of Elise's favorite drinks, the Negroni cocktail. She calls it "eating a snack and having a drink at the exact same time."

I'll share Smart Cookie's top tips to make the pretzel crust, line the pan, and keep the bars from browning too much so you can dust it with...well, read on and find out what that eye-catching topping is.

Get the recipe: Negroni Bars

Negroni Bars
Photo by Smart Cookie

"These colorful cookie bars are inspired by a Negroni cocktail. If not serving immediately, cover pan and keep refrigerated." — Smart Cookie

Smart Cookie's Top Tips:

1. It's okay to leave some chunky pieces of pretzel crumbs in the crust mixture; you just don't want anything that's "recognizably a pretzel."

2. It's also okay to substitute light brown sugar for dark brown, if that's what you have in your pantry.

3. When you line your pan with parchment paper, leave some overhang so you have something to hold onto when you lift the bars out of the pan.

4. Place foil over the top of the cookie batter before baking to keep it from browning too much.

5. Let the baked bars chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight, before dusting the top with pulverized freeze-dried strawberries.

Cook's tip: If you don't have brown sugar, here's how you can make your own light or dark brown sugar using granulated sugar and molasses.

Watch the video to see it all come together: