Say WHAT? Some of you might be whispering under your breath, “Now she’s done it. Our cocktail girl has lost her mind.” Before you twist yourself up in distaste at what sounds like a gas-inducing cocktail, stay with me.
And to those of you who already know the inside scoop on the artichoke liqueur Cynar, know where I am going.
Cynar, an admittedly oddball bittersweet liqueur from Italy, is a blend of 13 herbs and plants, with its distinctive flavor coming from artichoke leaves. Launched in 1952, the name refers to cynarine, a naturally occurring substance in artichokes.
So, fellow cocktails lovers, I know your interest is piqued, are you ready for a little taste adventure? Check out these top-notch examples of cocktails with Cynar and report back to me on your reactions:
Artichoke Hold, Kettner Exchange: Putting it right out there in the title, this hot spot in downtown San Diego pairs Cynar with bourbon, Maraschino, and orange bitters.
Bodhizafa, Seven Grand: Either a nod to Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break or a twist on the word bodhisattva (a Sanskrit term that means a person who lives with compassion), this doozy of a drink contains Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, Cynar, housemade rich demerara syrup, and fresh lemon juice. Let me know if you feel more compassionate or conversely, like robbing a bank in a president’s mask.
The Nightman, Saltbox: This not-for-the-weak drink makes me giggle endlessly with memories of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” episodes and is crafted with Templeton rye, Cynar, yellow chartreuse and orange bitters.
Bro-Vardier and Cynarmy Navy, Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant: It’s pretty darn rare to see one Cynar cocktail on a list let alone TWO. The Bro-Vardier contains delicious accompaniments to Cynar, including bourbon, Aperol, and Kina L’Aero. The Cynarmy Navy is a clever nod to the armed forces and blends Beefeater gin, Cynar, orgeat, lemon and sea salt.
Signore e Signori, Catania: Crafted by Cesar Sandoval, this cocktail means “Ladies and Gentleman” and might be a nod to a 1966 Italian sex comedy film by Pietro Germi. Containing many of my favorite Italian liquid ingredients, Aperol, Cynar, Amaro Nonino, and prosecco, it’s a can’t miss while gazing on the Pacific.
The Herbivore, Mister A’s: Created by Alvin Pugeda, this enticing concoction blends barrel-aged gin, housemade hibiscus-lemongrass tonic, Cynar, and my favorite aromatic herb, rosemary.
Perlage Dafne, Counterpoint: The only cocktail on the list to incorporate a wine ingredient. Counterpoint pairs Cynar with the Italy’s popular effervescent red Lambrusco, soda and grapefruit to create a refreshing nod to one of my favorite countries in the world. Saluti!
With 18 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 850 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @100beers30days or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to firstname.lastname@example.org.