These unique Cynar cocktails all leverage the artichoke liqueur’s one of a kind flavor! They’re complex but approachable, well-balanced, and guaranteed to impress your friends.
What Is Cynar?
Cynar is a fun and unique liqueur that adds so much depth and nuance to cocktails!
Cynar is in the amaro (Italian for bitter) family, which is a group of Italian herbal liqueurs that are often consumed as after-dinner digestifs. Amaro liqueurs vary greatly in terms of ingredients, taste, and alcohol content, but they’re all made by infusing wine or other spirits with botanicals.
Unlike other amaros that have been around for a while, Cynar only entered the scene in the 1950s. Since then, it’s been drank alone as an apéritif, in a range of mixed drinks, and as a digestif.
So it’s super versatile, and more and more bartenders and cocktail aficionados have started leveraging its one of a kind flavor to create unique, delicious drinks!
What Does Cynar Taste Like?
The name Cynar comes from the scientific name for artichokes (cynara), and it’s made primarily with artichoke leaves along with 13 other herbs and plants. Hence the gigantic green artichoke that decorates the front of the bottle.
However, Cynar doesn’t actually taste like artichokes. It has a subtle vegetal quality from the artichoke leaves, but it’s not the predominant flavor.
Cynar pours a deep brown color and smells like sweet honey, smoky burnt caramel, and oranges.
Despite its appearance, it’s bright on the palette and tastes bittersweet with flavors of rich caramel, warm spices, and earthy herbs.
Does Cynar taste like Campari or Aperol? Cynar is a great balance between Campari and Aperol, which are two other popular amari. It’s less bitter than Campari and less sweet than Aperol. Overall though, Cynar is going to be sweeter than most amari on the market.
What can I substitute for Cynar? While you could use Campari in place of Cynar, there are other amari that are more similar in taste and better suited. Zucca, Amaro Averna, and Amaro Nonino are herbal, spicy, and have similar levels of bitterness, so they’ll be the closest to Cynar flavor-wise.
What can you pair with Cynar? Cynar is super versatile and can be enjoyed on its own straight, neat, or over ice. It can also be used in most cocktails that call for an amaro, and it’s wonderful mixed with orange juice, soda, or tonic as a highball cocktail.
While the above are common mixers to pair with Cynar, we’re here to talk about unique cocktails with Cynar. So let’s get right into it, shall we?
The Bitter Giuseppe is one of the better known Cynar cocktails, but you don't see it a lot and most people haven't heard of it! It's a delicious combination of Cynar, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, and orange bitters.
While it's a bitter cocktail, as the name suggests, it's really well-balanced thanks to the sweet vermouth. Apéritif perfection!
A Negroni is typically made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. The Cynar Negroni is a simple riff on the classic recipe that simply replaces the Campari with Cynar for a more nuanced, mellow flavor.
The best part is it's only three ingredients and whips up in a minute or less!
If you need a festive, boozy drink for the holidays or fall, look no further than this tasty bourbon and Cynar cocktail!
The other two ingredients are Angostura bitters and a homemade cardamom and clove simple syrup (don't worry -- it's actually super easy to make!). So it's essentially an Old Fashioned with Cynar and spiced simple syrup.
The warm spices and light bitterness make for a super cozy, sippable drink.
Not only is this cocktail cleverly named, it's also SO tasty. It's a recipe from a popular cocktail bar in Chicago called the The Violet Hour, but you don't need to venture to the Windy City for it since it's easy to make at home!
All you need is white rum, Cynar, lime juice, Demerara syrup, and green Chartreuse. So it's herbaceous from the Cynar and green Chartreuse, but well-balanced thanks to the lime juice's acidity and syrup's light sweetness.
It's a bit of a stretch to even call this cocktail a riff on an Old Fashioned since it has none of the traditional ingredients you see in an Old Fashioned (i.e. whiskey, sugar, and bitters).
Regardless of the name, it's a super interesting cocktail that leverages some fun ingredients. You'll need Cynar, reposado tequila, mezcal, apple molasses, and gingerbread bitters. This is another one that's perfect for cool weather sipping!
The Latin Trifecta is a fun cocktail that takes a spirit from 3 romance language-speaking countries. You have Cynar from Italy, tequila from Mexico, and sherry from Spain. The only other ingredient you need is orange bitters.
So it's booze-forward, well-balanced, and packed with flavor!
Here's another cocktail to keep you warm on a cold fall or winter night with a surprising line up of ingredients! You'll need red wine (something rich and fruit-forward like Shiraz), coffee liqueur, Cynar, rye whiskey, and cherry bitters.
Although it's a lot of strong flavors, they all work beautifully together and make for a rich, endlessly sippable cocktail.
And that’s a wrap! Which of these Cynar cocktails are you excited to try?! I personally can’t wait to whip up the Rum Barrel Winter this weekend because it’s finally getting cooler out but I’ll be at the beach so I want something a little tropical. Best of both worlds!
If you have a unique Cynar cocktail I didn’t include here, let me know in the comment section below 🙂