If you mention Cynar, an artichoke flavored amaro, to the bartender, chances are you’ll get a nod of approval. “I first discovered Cynar when I was living in Italy and it quickly became one of my favorites,” says Will Simpson, beverage director at Juniper Cafe. “Upon my return to the United States, I was shocked to find it in every bar. Turns out the bartenders liked him even more than I did.”
“What’s not to love?” adds Ben Potts, co-founder of Unfiltered Hospitality in Miami. “Cynar is slightly sweet, slightly bitter, complex and delicious. The balance of flavors allows you to drink it alone or in cocktails.”
What is Cynar?
Cynar is an Italian amaro that calls for “a secret blend of herbs and spices with one ingredient that’s known and stands out: the artichoke,” says Simpson. “This unique blend creates a smooth, slightly sweet blend with a bitter aftertaste that is guaranteed to satisfy. It’s slightly vegetable, with a light smokeiness and richness that pairs well with a medium/full-bodied amaro.”
“Kinar is a style of amaro called carisiofo., which translates to artichoke,” says Stephanie Andrews of Billy Sunday. “This amaro family focuses on the maceration of ingredients in the Asteraceae family, which includes cardoons, artichokes, and thistles.” the edible parts of the artichoke in water or wine, a process dating back to the Roman Empire. “But the brand itself was the product of a Padua pastry chef named G.B. Pezziol,” she adds. “He started making Zabajone Benedictine, or VOV as we know it today.” As the distiller’s fame grew, Pezziol expanded his product repertoire, eventually launching Cynar in 1950.
Andrew Zerrip, director of beverages at New York’s Baxtrom Hospitality, notes that Cynar (pronounced “chy-nar”) is a typical after-dinner drink, mainly because of its deep bittersweet taste and low alcohol content. With a score of 16% – well below most amaros – “it completes the meal without stumping you or the guest.”
What does cynar taste like?
Simpson believes that Cynar is far more cunning than most Amari. “13 different herbal and bitter profiles are balanced by a sweetness that is not overpowering,” he says. It is slightly vegetal and sweet with a bitter base.
“Its balance and subtle sweetness make Cynar the perfect addition to cocktails,” he continues. Try a drink reminiscent of Manhattan, just tone down the vermouth and bitters; it also shines in fizzy drinks like French 75 or something heavily citrusy – Simpson notes that the mezcal margarita with Cynar is “something special”.. In fact, the longest time his favorite drink after work was a sour beer with a shot of Cynar. “In warm weather, it is impossible to beat him,” he adds.
How to pronounce cinar
Cynar is pronounced chee-nar with the accent on the hard CH.
How do you serve Kinah?
“Cinar can be served as an aperitif or digestif,” says Andrews. “It also pairs well with a variety of spirits! We’ve used it in everything from amaro daiquiri to bourbon to espresso martinis.” She does it on her own or in her favorite combination of half rye and half Cynar shots.
Looking for a less complicated recipe? Try adding cinar to Coke, or add it to a spritz instead of aperol. “It’s deeper and smoother, especially if you’re looking to cool off during the cooler months,” says Simpson. Or just wash it down with beer or sparkling wine. At Brooklyn’s Maison Yaki, Zerrip likes to be served neat and chilled with a pinch of salt. “It’s a good addition to any classic sweet red vermouth cocktail, like the (mezcal) Negroni or Manhattan, as the strength doesn’t overpower the drink, but adds a richer herbal bitterness.”