In places that love herbal liqueurs, amari are in abundant supply, but Cynar offers an artichoke-y essence uniquely its own.
Cynar (pronounced CHEE-nar) relies on its namesake plant, Cynara scolymus (also known as the globe artichoke), for its vegetal vertebrae. But for many, that’s where the spirit’s flavor-relationship with the thistle ends. Thirteen other herbs and plants round out its flavor profile, which has been confusingly compared to everything from rum raisin ice cream to a buttery blend of garden weeds. At 16.5 percent alcohol, Cynar packs neither the intensely bitter bite nor the alcoholic punch of Angostura bitters, but bartenders still frequently combine the liqueur with lighter, more uplifting liquids such as soda water, tonic, and orange juice.
Recently, Cynar’s producer, Campari, has introduced a boozed-up 70-proof version (35 percent ABV), advertised as an ideal substitute for the company’s namesake red liqueur in the Negroni cocktail. More intriguing might be one bar’s offering of a Cynar-eggnog cocktail in Washington, D.C. But no matter what version of this bitter, vegetal beverage you decide upon, don’t feel confined to happy hour. Cynar enjoys acceptance as both a before- and after-dinner intoxicant.