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Mixing with Cynar

cynar cocktails

Cynar is perhaps my new favorite ingredient for crafting cocktails. I’ve been drinking the stuff, usually straight, for several years, but it’s only recently that I’ve begun to really experiment with Cynar cocktails.

While the bottle prominently features an artichoke, one can hardly claim that Cynar tastes like artichokes. Rather, it’s a bittersweet Italian aperitif (though it can be considered a valid digestivo given its bitter properties) comprised of 13 herbs and plants. It’s much less bitter than amari like Fernet and Campari, and its relatively low alcohol level–just 16.5%–makes it even easier to toss down the hatch.

Cynar is often served as a shot or mixed with soda, and in certain European countries, it’s a popular addition to orange juice. Others have found that subbing Cynar for Campari in a Negroni or Americano yields good results, something we can heartily vouch for. That said, here are a few more intricate cocktails calling for Cynar.

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The below drink is an original creation from Chicago’s fine cocktail bar, The Violet Hour.

The Art of Choke

1 1⁄4 oz Cynar
1 oz White Rum
1⁄4 oz Green Chartreuse
1⁄8 oz Rich demerara syrup
1⁄8 oz Lime juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Mint

Stir all ingredients including mint sprig until cold. Strain into rocks glass over large ice cube, and garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

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This drink is a Cocktail Enthusiast original. It’s deeply flavorful, harmonious and delicious.

Baroque and Famous

2 oz Flor de Cana 7-Year Rum
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. Express orange peel and garnish.

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Here’s a cocktail created by Cameron Bogue of Bar Pleiades in New York’s Surrey Hotel.

The Sanny

2 oz Bourbon
1 1⁄2 oz Cynar
1⁄4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
2 dash Celery bitters
Lemon peel

Stir all ingredients, then strain into rocks glass over ice. Express lemon peel and garnish.

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That’s a good trio to start with. But we’re always up for further experimentation, so if you’ve got a favorite Cynar cocktail, let us know.

Written by Kevin Gray

8 Comments

  1. JT · February 17, 2012

    Love love love using Cynar in Americanos. I also like subbing it for sweet vermouth in Manhattans. It’s got that rich earthy taste that just seems to work.

  2. ritzchy · February 20, 2012

    Great post! Cynar, as a herb-and-plant-rich aperitif liquer, makes a great drink whether straight on the rocks, or as a mixed drink. I’ve seen a friend replaced Campari on Negroni drink. I can even smell the rich essence of the herbs of Cynar. I would highly recommend this with my friends.

  3. Melany · February 20, 2012

    Wow, all these variations sounds wonderful!

  4. Tommy · February 20, 2012

    I love Cynar with whisky. This is more or less a manhattan variation of all my favorites.
    Black Lodge
    1.5 oz Turkey Rye
    .5 oz cynar
    .5 oz combier rouge (adds a nice bitter cherry note)
    .5 oz punt e mes
    dash regan’s orange bitters
    stir that up, I like a big ice cube, and orange peel

    We make like 30 of these a night at Kask.

  5. Ambra · August 1, 2012

    Ooooh, like the sound of these cocktails. I’ve just written a blogpost about artichokes and Cynar and now I’m a little obsessed with trying the liqueur in cocktails. Thanks for the recipes.

  6. Jim · May 1, 2013

    Couldn’t stop drinking ’em. Equal parts Cynar, Brandy, and Rum garnished with lemon peel in a coupe glass.

  7. Steven McDowell · November 1, 2014

    Meet Me At the Bar

    One would think this drink would be pretty bitter, but the balance seems perfect to me.

    • 1.5oz. Death’s Door gin (I am certain another gin would be just fine, in fact I use Beefeater more often than not.)
    • .75oz. dry vermouth
    • .75oz. Cynar (artichoke liqueur)
    • .75oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit (juice)
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    Shake with ice, strain into champagne glass (not flute)
    Garnish with grapefruit twist (the zest, sans pith)

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