The Home Bartender’s Guide to Cynar Cocktails

Posted by Helena Hambrecht on

At-home bartending is one of the most useful skills you can cultivate if you enjoy hosting guests and enjoying delicious, fun, and vibrant drinks with friends. Cocktails from a restaurant or bar can cost fifteen or even twenty dollars per drink. At home, your creative, delicious, and fun cocktails won’t cost you a fortune.

One of our favorite parts of bartending at home is the incredible variety of liquors, mixers, apéritifs, and liqueurs you can combine to make truly original cocktails. One of our favorite bottles we’ve been experimenting with recently is Cynar.

If you have never heard of Cynar, don’t worry — we hadn’t either until very recently! This apéritif packs in loads of flavor and is a fun ingredient to craft exceptional at-home cocktails.

Here’s your at-home bartender’s guide to Cynar cocktails, including what Cynar is and how you can mix your own Cynar cocktails to create your signature drink.

What Is Cynar, Anyway?

While many delicious Italian aperitivos and digestivos have started to make headway in the United States, Cynar is one that still flies under the radar. Cynar (pronounced CHEE-nar) is an Amari, a classic Italian style of digestivo traditionally consumed at the end of the meal to soothe the stomach and aid digestion — thus the name digestivo.

Cynar is a dark, bitter, and fragrant Amari produced by soaking 13 herbs and spices in a neutral liquor. The most interesting part about Cynar is its main ingredient: artichoke.

While artichoke may be a flavorful ingredient, you’ll be surprised by how versatile and light this drink can be. Unlike other Amari, Cynar has a less bitter and aggressive flavor, making Cynar a great component in cocktails. That said, Cynar does bring a vegetal and earthy component to drinks, offering a unique twist that your guests won’t forget.

What Are the Best Cynar Cocktails?

Now that you know what’s up with Cynar, it’s time to learn about the tastiest Cynar cocktails you can make at home:

1. Cynar Spritz

The first cocktail on our list is both the simplest and one of the most refreshing. The Cynar spritz lets the flavors of Cynar shine through and can be an easy introduction to Cynar for new drinkers.

The Cynar Spritz only requires two ingredients: Cynar and Champagne or soda water. That’s it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Ounces of Cynar
  • Prosecco, Champagne, Sparkling Wine, or Club Soda

In a chilled Champagne flute or wine glass, combine your Cynar and fill your sparkling mixer to your taste level. Serve with common garnishes like lemon wheels or olives, or choose your favorite new twist on a classic.

The Cynar spritz is an earthy, bright, and effervescent drink thanks to the mixers’ carbonation. You can adjust this drink to the proper strength for your taste since it’s so simple. If the Cynar is still a bit much for you, sweeten up your drink with a pinch or two of simple syrup.

2. Bitter Giuseppe

The Bitter Giuseppe is a wonderfully light and bright drink that is sort of like a Cynar-based Manhattan. It’s one of the few Cynar cocktails out there made using a Cynar base, which can be overpowering in many other cocktails. Thankfully, the Bitter Giuseppe has just enough brightness from the lemon and vermouth to taper off deliciously.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Ounces of Cynar
  • 1 Ounce of Sweet Vermouth
  • ¼ Ounce of Lemon Juice
  • 6 Dashes of Orange Bitters

First, combine your Cynar, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, and orange bitters in a mixing glass with ice, and stir for at least thirty seconds until chilled. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with a lemon twist if desired, and enjoy.

If you like Manhattans and are looking to give Cynar a try, the Bitter Giuseppe cocktail is a great introduction to this cool new digestivo. If you want to give your Bitter Giuseppe a fun twist, you can swap out the sweet vermouth for a Haus apéritif. We recommend Spiced Cherry for a tarter, fruitier twist.

3. The Artichoke Hold

Of all the things that you imagine when you think of Amari drinks, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably something bitter, slow-sipping, and herbal — an acquired taste. Cynar can actually make an ultra-delicious tiki-style drink that’s love at first sip.

The Artichoke Hold is a brilliantly-named cocktail by Brooklyn-based bartender Jeremy Oertel. It uses the unconventional main ingredients Cynar and St. Germain alongside elderflower liqueur to create a glass of tiki fun.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ Ounce of Jamaican Rum
  • ¾ Ounce of Cynar
  • ½ Ounce of St Germain
  • ¾ Ounce of Lime Juice
  • ½ Ounce of Orgeat

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine your rum, Cynar, St. Germain, lime juice, and orgeat. Shake for at least thirty seconds until your drink is chilled and the shaker has noticeably cooled. Strain into a glass filled with cracked, crushed, or pebbled ice. Drink through a straw and enjoy.

The Artichoke Hold is reminiscent of a Mai Tai, and the artichoke feels surprisingly at home in the Jamaican rum and St. Germain’s funky sweetness. The orgeat adds an important twang that brings tiki vibes to any drink it’s in.

If you want to play around with the Artichoke Hold, try replacing St. Germain with our Haus Citrus Flower apéritif to bring a floral element that amplifies the tiki drink’s bright citrus signature.

4. Sangria

The final Cynar cocktail you’ll want in your back pocket is sangria. Of course, not all sangria uses Cynar, but a Cynar sangria is a yummy way to convince hesitant drinkers to give Cynar a try.

A great sangria is all about taste and proportion using what you have on hand. There are all sorts of combos you can make with spirits, liqueurs, wines, and juices that create a delicious sangria-type punch.

We love combining Cynar with a Haus apéritif to even further elevate the flavors and add a new dimension to sangria.

Which Cynar Cocktail Will You Try First?

Cynar is a niche apéritif in the United States, but it has a fun and funky flavor that you may find hard to beat. Cynar is unique because of its main ingredient — artichoke — which gives Cynar a bitter, vegetal, and earthy flavor that’s surprisingly smooth in the right mix.

Give any of these five cocktails a try to see what Cynar is all about. Whether you like spritzes, tiki drinks, or sangria, you’ll find a way to experience Cynar that’s approachable, easy, and totally crave-able.

Don't forget to experiment with our Haus alternatives and substitutes! You can discover a lot of variety in these recipes using different bottles of your favorite Haus apéritif for minor tweaks (and major bursts of flavor).

Sources:

Apéritif Definition and Cocktail Recipes | The Spruce Eats

Artichoke Hold | PUNCH

What Is Cynar, and How Do You Say It? | Tasting Table