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Cocktail with Cynar?

I'm tired of drinking Cynar on the rocks and as a "substitute" for Campari. Anybody have any cool ideas?

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  1. The Washington Post Spirits Columnist (Jason Wilson I heart you!) wrote an article about it a year ago.

    He adapted a cocktail here:


    1 ounce artichoke-flavored liqueur, such as Cynar brand
    1 ounce gin
    1 ounce sweet vermouth
    Dash bitters, either Peychaud or Angostura brand
    2 orange wedges, sliced 1/2-inch thick

    Combine the artichoke-flavored liqueur, gin, sweet vermouth and bitters in a cocktail shaker along with a squeeze of juice from 1 orange wedge. Fill with ice and shake until well chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the remaining orange wedge.

    I personally don't like Cynar, but if you do try this cocktail, could you describe what it tastes like? I might attempt to persuade my local lounge to make it for me...

    3 Replies
    1. re: tizinu

      Mixed something very similar before...tastes a lot like an Americano, which basically makes it a "substitute" for Campari. It's delicious, but I'm looking for something out of the norm.

      Thanks bunches for the Post column.

      1. re: invinotheresverde

        You're right about the Cynar substituting for Campari, but the original (with Campari) would be a Negroni rather than an Americano. Babbo also have a drink called the Cyn-Cin, featuring Cynar and Cinzano as the vermouth. Still pretty much a modified negroni, but with a splash of orange juice I believe.

        Sadly, I don't have any Cynar drink suggestions to add...


    2. Babbo (NYC) used to make a drink they called the Thistle, with Cynar, Stoli O, Cointreau, fresh squeezed OJ. Have had the gin/vermouth/cynar/bitters drink at Vessel (Seattle), it was quite good.

        1. re: invinotheresverde

          Had a drink with Rye, Cynar and a house-made citrus syrup (simple syrup and fresh orange, or grapefruit zest)...I think that was it...? very tasty! Next time I'll watch the prep closer to see if there are other ingredients.

        2. I absolutely LOVE Cynar, and I have been playing around with various recipes recently. The best one I've found is the Scorch the Earth, created by a bartender from Atlanta as reported by Gary Regan in a SF paper:

          1.5 Cognac
          .5 Lemon
          .5 Cynar
          Flamed Lemon Peel

          Good stuff.

          6 Replies
          1. re: bza

            Sounds pretty interesting. I'll have to give it a whirl.

            1. re: bza

              Just to correct the record (in case it saves someone else from drinking the recipe above), it's .5 sweet vermouth, not .5 lemon!


              1. re: will47

                ps - A "Little Italy" is similar, and also pretty good.

                Here's one take on it:

                2 oz rye
                1/2 oz Cynar
                3/4 oz sweet vermouth
                2 brandied cherries skewered on a stick
                flamed orange twist

                [stir with ice, serve up]

                1. re: will47

                  I did a twist on a Martinez last night (replacing the Maraschino rather than the bitters), and I think it came out pretty well.

                  2 oz Sweet Vermouth (I used Vya)
                  1 oz Old Tom Gin (I used the Ransom one, which is great) - if you don't have the Old Tom, might want to add some symple syrup
                  1/2 oz Cynar
                  4 dashes Boker's bitters (maybe unnecessary with the Cynar, but I used them anyway)

                  Stir and strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass; flame orange peel on top, and serve with orange twist and / or brandied cherry.

                  The resulting drink is moderately bitter, though I think pretty balanced because of the sweet vermouth and the Old Tom; you could reduce the Cynar if you prefer. I make my Martinezes with the older style proportions (more vermouth than gin), but you could flip those too, or do a mix of dry and sweet.

                  1. re: will47

                    Cynar can add a friendly bitter/vegetal note to a cocktail that can be very welcome as an apéritif, when used judiciously. Try this "kitchen sink" Manhattan sometime to test it out:

                    Kitchen Sink Manhattan
                    3 oz rye
                    1 oz sweet vermouth
                    1/2 oz Cynar
                    1 dash Angostura bitters
                    1 dash Regan's orange bitters
                    1 dash Fee's chocolate bitters
                    Stir & strain into coupe, add orange twist.

                    A Manhattan variant using port and Cynar turns out very well for a mellower sip, so delicious to me that it's now my "eponymous" cocktail:

                    The Rob Marais
                    2 oz rye
                    1 oz ruby port
                    1/2 oz Cynar
                    2 dashes orange bitters
                    Stir & strain into coupe, add orange twist.

                    1. re: marais

                      Your "eponymous" cocktail intrigues; especially the with the introduction port.
                      With Cynar in mind, what are you thoughts on a long, cool fix for the warmer season?

              2. Use it in place of vermouth in a Manhattan, but obviously you should omit the bitters.

                5 Replies
                1. re: tmso

                  I find it to be more enjoyable if you use the cynar instead of the bitters rather than excluding both the bitters and the vermouth. Just use 1/4-1/2 oz of the cynar (depending on how much you like it) and cut down on the vermouth by the same.

                  Tasty stuff... they make something resembling that at Death and Co called a Cynartown, though I believe they have other ingredients and I don't know the ratios... actually, now that i think about it, that's with beefeater gin, not rye. Still a pretty fantastic drink, if anyone knows the recipe, hint hint.

                  1. re: bza

                    Yeah, you can also take that approach. In which case, I'd use French (dry, white) vermouth rather than sweet Italian.

                    I actually cooked up quite a nice Cynar based cocktail this weekend, inspired by the question. One part pastis, two parts Cynar, stirred with ice. Fill a champagne flute half-way with the chilled liqueurs and top with sparkling wine. It went over very well as an aperitif.

                    1. re: tmso

                      That's exactly this type of interesting flavor combo I was looking for.


                    2. re: bza

                      How do you pronounce Cynar?
                      Is it SY-nar, CHY-nar, sin-NAR, or something else?

                      1. re: jerryc123

                        http://www.forvo.com/word/cynar/ Click the "play" triangle.

                        I'd say that's something like CHEE-narr with a tiny bit of soft e at the end, but then I don't speak Italian.

                  2. Playing with a drink supposedly on the Hungry Mother menu, I came up with:
                    1 1/2 oz Gin,
                    1/2 oz Cynar
                    1/2 oz Cointreau
                    3/4 oz Grapefruit
                    2 dash Peychards Bitters
                    Shaken, rocks, garnished with squeezed orange wedge.

                    Interesting balance between Juniper (I used Tanqueray) and bitter notes. Lots of fruit flavors. Pretty balanced -- you could cut back the Cointreau to 3/8 or 1/4 if you want it tarter.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      That looks like a pretty good drink. Cynar has been on my wish list for some time.

                      Thanks for the pronunciation link. In my head, I was saying SIE-NARRR. I'm so glad I didn't say that put loud to anyone!

                      1. re: jerryc123

                        I have to sheepishly admit that that is exactly what I did to renew my interest in Cynar. I asked for it with soda. The waitress said, basically, "huh", so I pointed at the bottle on the back bar, saying confidently, SIE-nar. She had to grace to not correct me. I liked it enough to start experimenting, although it does not seem to take to soda and lime in the way that Campari does. Maybe lemon -- after all, don't you dip your artichoke leaves in lemon and butter or lemon vinaigrette?

                        There are many ingredients that as a hobbiest I have never heard pronounced. I'm still getting my head around orgreat.

                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                          Hey Dan - is orgreat really good orgeat syrup? :-p

                          (sorry couldn't resist - and I saw this as a chance to revive this thread since I recently acquired a bottle of the stuff.)

                          1. re: ncyankee101

                            You know what Tony the Tiger says ...

                            I think we mispronounce orgeat. I was corrected at Drink to say or-ZHAT. I think had dinner with a fluent French speaker who said or-ZHAA with maybe the tiniest T at the end.

                            As for Cynar, have you had a Colonel Carpano (Bourbon, Cynar, CAF, Peychaud's)? I had it again last night. I have it 5 starts the first time, but this time I found it a touch too sweet. I used a mix of bourbon and rye, which helped. I might add a touch of dry vermouth. In any version, it's a great cocktail by Kyle Davidson (The Violet Hour).

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                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                              I don't have Antica would Punt e mes work?

                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                I think that would work fine. Maybe that would be General Carpano ;) You might start out with a bit less and taste. I'm pretty darn sure I would like it with the full amount, but others might prefer to mix it with another sweet vermouth, or even with a bit of dry vermouth to lean out the sugar a bit. I think this recipe is pretty flexible.

                                Not sure what happened with my double signature above. Can't fix it now :( Lots of typos, too. :(( Oh well.

                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                  I tried this but used Elijah Craig 12 yr, thinking the milder Buffalo Trace might not hold up to the punt e mes. I cut the amount of punt e mes slightly, maybe by about 25%.

                                  I like it - tastes like a very spicy Manhattan, I might try it again with Ritt 100 or Wild Turkey Rye. (Ah I just read the comments below the recipe, I see I am not the first with this idea.)

                                  Edit - ok i did this - and it turned up the spice another notch - also used the full portion of Punt e mes. I have made quite a few Manhattans and liked them but never found them all that exciting, this drink has that edge that appeals to my rather adventurous palate.

                    2. I just made up a drink I am really happy with that I am calling The Second Love. It's equal parts rye whiskey, maraschino liqueur, cynar, and lemon juice. It's tasty as hell.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: pb n foie

                        Yum! Sounds sort of like a riff on a Last Word/Final Ward - I think anything with equal proportions of a standard liquor, maraschino, an herbal liqueur, and citrus is going to be pretty tasty.

                        1. re: kathleen440


                          Equal parts strong, yucky/funky/earthy/complex, bright/bittersweet, sour/citrus.

                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                            I can't imagine it is that differrent than the Final Ward?

                            1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                              I was just generalizing what Kathleen said. Last Word, Final Ward, Paper Plane, Paper Airplane -- it's a general formula that works with many, many combinations.

                              The concept is very similar to the Negroni / Boulevardier / Old Pal / Lua Bonita family -- equal parts Spirit, Aromatized Wine, Amaro -- but with acid and no wine.

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                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                I hear you. I had a couple last night. They were good. Then I left out the Luxardo, lowered the lemon and added a bit of Agave. That is really good stuff...


                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                  These are what I call cocktail patterns. Similar to software design patterns, for those readers who are IT-minded.

                                  I would generalize things even further. For the Negroni pattern: sprit, wine, herbal liqueur. (Which I think I debated with you about in another thread, when I posted some Negroni variation using Chartreuse.)

                                  For the Last Word pattern, spirit, two liqueurs, citrus. (Why not herbal/herbal, like the Monte Cassino?)

                                  Then there's a Manhattan pattern (which the Martini falls into), a Sidecar pattern (Margarita falls in there), and so on and so forth.

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                    <(Which I think I debated with you about in another thread, when I posted some Negroni variation using Chartreuse.)> You did?? I hardly find myself knowledgeable enough on the subject to "debate" with you. Seriously....

                                    I guess my main point in my comment earlier is from a $ standpoint. Cynar is more expensive than most of the vermouths I use and I wondered if it is "worth the difference" so to say...

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      I totally agree. And two software geeks can debate the nuances of software patterns. So I will.

                                      For me, the (Gin) Martini is a singleton. What makes it wonderful is the paring down to the essentials -- the alcohol, the juniper, a bit of bitterness from the vermouth, and a bit of complexity and acid from the wine. No sugar to smooth anything over, just alcohol, aromatic flavor, texture, and temperature. Austere. Simple. Pure.

                                      By contrast, a Manhattan is opulent. Rich wood-aged spirit, lots of sugar from the vermouth, a touch of bitterness to help balance the strong sweetness, smooth, comforting. Rich, rather than bright. For gods sake, it has a kiddie fruit as a garnish. ;) All that's missing is the whipped cream and marshmallow topping.

                                      I love them both, but they aren't cut from the same cloth, or if they are, one is a bikini and the other is a cloak. They probably shared an origin. The Dry Martini probably came from a sweet drink, perhaps the Martinez. But as they have evolved today, they are distinct -- like humans and,dolphins.

                                      You are right about the Last Word pattern -- it doesn't include bitter. My error. What I described was a different pattern that doesn't include the Last Word, one in which bitterness moderated by acid is an essential component. But that pattern is obviously related to the Last Word pattern. Maybe I could write an adapter class to make a Last Word look like a Paper Airplane ;) /nerd-joke

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                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                        I love the post! Maybe it is the cocktails speaking tonight. Hard rain and off Friday tomorrow.
                                        As far as use for Cynar, I have to say, of all of the things I have tried in the bitter/herbal-wine/? world, I really just love this stuff straight with maybe an ice cube. I just had some toasted ravs (St. Louis thing) and some pizza and I am having some straight right now. I really love this stuff...

                                        I am going to really take a look at your patterns and start using them. Thanks for all your knowledge! Truly!

                            2. re: pb n foie

                              Definitely going to try this with the sub of Zucca for Cynar (which I don't have at home right now) - I think the rhubarb may play very well with the lemon and marachino!

                            3. My gf asked for a drink featuring Cynar at the Varnish last night, and they whipped something pretty tasty up. She said it tastes a little like a grapefruit soda only not grapefruity.

                              I tried to make a variation at home using roughly the same ingredients, and it came out pretty well. I didn't ask for the exact proportions (no more than 1 oz of each item, and I think roughly even proportions), and I think they used lime instead of lemon, so this is an approximation (mine came out a little more bitter than theirs, so I'm guessing they used a little more syrup or a little less Cynar). They called it something like (may be remembering wrong) "Palermo with a View"

                              1 oz Cynar
                              1 oz Dry Vermouth
                              ~ 3/4 oz Lemon
                              1/2 oz rich syrup (I used ginger peppercorn syrup; not sure exact ratio
                              since it reduced a little) -- you may have to adjust this to taste

                              Shake & strain into ice-filled highball glass, top with club soda, garnish with citrus wedge.

                              1. Two from my favorite Boston cocktail joint, DRINK:

                                #1) The Little Guiseppe

                                2 oz Cynar
                                2 oz sweet vermouth (Cinzano)
                                Barspoon (or quick squeeze) lemon juice
                                6 dashes orange bitters
                                Stir. Serve in double old-fashioned glass with big chunk of ice. Add pinch of coarse/kosher salt.

                                The salt is important -- it melts the large chunk of ice slowly, and adds a wonderful complexity to the bitterness of the Cynar and sweetness of the vermouth.

                                #2) Cynar Flip

                                2 1/2 oz. Cynar
                                1 egg yolk
                                Demerara sugar (I like mine less sweet, so I don't put much in)

                                Add ice, shake the bejeezus out of it.
                                Pour into a cocktail glass.

                                The egg does most of the sweetening on its own, and deepens the Cynar, giving it all a silky mouthfeel. SO good.

                                Some history and variations on the Cynar Flip can be found here:

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: litchick

                                  CORRECTION: on the Cynar flip, that's meant to be one whole egg, not just the yolk. Sorry!

                                  1. re: litchick

                                    Yeah - I noticed that the site you mentioned had the whole egg listed up top, but then just the yolk listed below. I made it last night with the yolk only, and it was still a hit. My girlfriend claims it tastes just like Orange Julius. I think she's crazy.

                                  2. re: litchick

                                    the little giuseppe is ridiculously good, and the salt is definitely the key- it brings about a savory quality and really brings out the vegetal notes of the cynar. It is by far the most memorable cynar cocktail I've ever had. I made it at home a few weeks ago with carpano because I didn't have cinzano and it was amazing- but I had to cut back to 1.5 oz because I find carpano to be a little more intense than cinzano. cheers!

                                    1. re: Clos Vougeot

                                      Sounds pretty sweet? That's 99.5% sweet ingredients. I'll try it based on your recommendation.

                                      1. re: Clos Vougeot

                                        Later... It is a bit sweet, but not oppressively so. The strong flavors and bitter tones sort of give the sweet a pass. I tried adding 1/4 oz Lemon (and definitely a broad expressed lemon zest is nice). It was good both ways. It is more bitter without the acid (that's a plus), but it's less sweet with the lemon (that's a plus).

                                    2. Tried, and revised the Norma Jean that I got here:

                                      Norma Jean -- tweaked

                                      2 oz Gin (Tanqueray
                                      )1 oz Cynar
                                      3/4 oz Lemon
                                      1/4 oz Simple (1:1)
                                      6-7 mint leaves, lightly muddled

                                      Shake, strain, crushed, mint garnish

                                      Very, very good drink, at least to my taste. I might cut back lemon to 1/2 oz and eliminate the simple.

                                      PS -- not sure what's happening with the return before the right paren -- it doesn't show when I edit.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                        It's a known bug... I wrote Chow about it *years* ago, and they said they knew about it, but it wasn't worth fixing. What you can do is put a space after the paren at the EOL, and it should then display properly.

                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          Well, I could if they would disable that stupid feature that locks the post after awhile, preserving your typos for eternity. Thanks for the space tip.

                                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                                            I have been playing with something like this for the last week or so. No mint leaves and I use Agave. I used some Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters and it also worked nicely with The Bitter Truth Bitters.
                                            Really liking this drink....

                                            1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                                              Maybe during the summer when mint is cheap and readily available, try the host of cynar / mint cocktails. There is something about the savoriness of Cynar with the freshness of mint. It's really a great combo.

                                          2. I just had a cocktail at Richard Branson's restaurant, Ninety Acres called Sinners and Saints. I don't know what the proportions are but it was really delicious!!

                                            Cynar, elderflower liquor & sparkling wine with ice and a flamed lemon peel

                                            If someone can figure out the recipe, please share! =)

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ivyleaf

                                              in rocks glass pour about 1.5 oz cava
                                              about 1 oz Cynar
                                              1 oz St Germain
                                              top with cava

                                              should do the trick

                                            2. While I think Cynar is sort of miracle ingredient -- bringing complexity and interest to a wide variety of flavor profiles -- I was absolutely floored at how good it is with just a squeeze of lime over rocks. It is REALLY good. And low alcohol, too. I don't know why I hadn't tried it this way before. I had tried it with soda and lime, which is good, but just straight is absolutely amazing. The ice was pretty wet, so you might need a long stir or splash of water if using very cold home ice. If you love Cynar and haven't tried this, I can all but guarantee your delight.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                True about the low alcohol content. The folks at Drink (Boston) told me at one point that when a patron wants a drink with lots of flavor but isn't too strong, they often recommend a cynar-based cocktail. It's a good last-drink-of-the-night sort of thing... or maybe 1st drink of the afternoon. ;)

                                                For a good summer drink, I like cynar on ice with a bit of lemoncello and seltzer. A little sweet, a little bitter, perfect for sitting on the porch on a nice day.

                                                1. re: litchick

                                                  Second the cynar and lemoncello, but I left out the seltzer because it was quite good without it. I also quite like it Dan's way with a splash of lime over ice.

                                                1. re: andytee

                                                  this one is tasty
                                                  3/4 batavia arrack
                                                  3/4 cynar
                                                  3/4 maraschino
                                                  1/2 bonal aperitif
                                                  3/4 lime
                                                  served up

                                                  1. re: andytee

                                                    Tasty, yes it is. I swapped the quantities of Maraschino and Bonal and served it on the rocks, and it's fantastic. Now name this I'm calling it Lead n' Liver

                                                  2. Craigie on Main in Cambridge makes the Zelda Fitzgerald,essentially a Manhattan variant. Rye, Cynar, Aperol, Mirto, bitters and expressed lemon peel scorched with a match and rubbed on the rim. Stirred with ice then served neat. Unbelievable. Can be a little sweet if you don't overweight the rye.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Germanicus

                                                      Proportions / recipe, please? Sounds fantastic.

                                                      I whipped up a Little Italy variation tonight with 2 oz Bourbon, 1 oz Cynar, 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth. I liked it a lot.

                                                      It would be interesting to flip it around with 2 oz Cynar, 1 oz Bourbon, and 1/2 oz Sweet vermouth, but I'd probably have to use Bookers or something, which would make it a touch dear. Maybe for some special night.

                                                    2. I like Cynar o/r with a nice splash of good orange juice.

                                                      1. Try this cocktail -- it's a riff on a Dark n' Stormy, and it's absolutely delicious. (And it makes great use of Cynar.) The recipe is courtesy of Nostrano, a terrific restaurant in Madison, Wis. owned by husband-and-wife pastry chefs Tim and Elizabeth Dahl. Tim worked at Blackbird and Elizabeth worked at Naha, both in Chicago, before they returned to Madison.

                                                        Variable High Cloudiness and Gusty Winds

                                                        1 1/2 oz. dark rum
                                                        3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
                                                        3/4 oz. Cynar
                                                        3/4 oz. ginger syrup (Nostrano juices its own ginger, then mixes the ginger juice with a 1:1 ratio of simple syrup to create ginger syrup)
                                                        Black strap molasses

                                                        Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients except molasses. Shake hard; strain into a coupe glass. Top with molasses.

                                                        1. Rachel Maddow made a cocktail using Cynar last night on her show. She named it The Invisible Ink in homage to the CIA declassifying their WW ll document about how write with and read invisible ink. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/
                                                          1 1/2 ounces Gin
                                                          juice of 1/2 lime
                                                          1 ounce Cynar

                                                          Combine the Gin, Tonic and Lime Juice. Add the Cynar on top and enjoy.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Argol

                                                            This recipe works with just about any amaro, particularly the aperitif amari. Campari, Aperol, Zucca. It also works with seltzer where you adjust the amaro for the bitterness and control the sweetness with the lime.

                                                            The recipe is vague as to lime and tonic quantities.

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