If you’re into cocktails, it’s likely you’ve come across the amaro Cynar—either on menus or in your drink. There’s a global resurgence in the popularity of amaros, a sub-genre of bitters, extending beyond the Aperol Spritz and Campari’s Negroni. With a lower alcohol content, an herbal palette and a dynamic edge, amaros are being ushered in with the grander classic cocktail revival. Cynar’s unique bouquet makes it a sophisticated drink option, worthy of experimentation.
“Amaros have opened up a whole other category of mixed drinks,” explains The Wayland co-owner Brian Hawthorne. “You do not need a sour to balance a sweet any longer. The room for experimentation has grown.” Hawthorne says that, “they’re like a spicy food; they can be intense but perfect if you want a challenge.” When asked why amaros are coming back, and the best way to tackle something as complex as Cynar, Hawthorne shed additional insight and offered up a specific cocktail.
“Campari has been the gateway bitter,” he explains. “With Campari and now Cynar, there is a mystery, an allure. No one really know what the components are, whereas spirits are quite open about their ingredients and process.” We do know that Cynar contains 13 herbs and plants—of which artichoke is one—within its sweet bitterness. While you cannot taste any trace of artichoke, there is an almost floral spice that envelops the tastebuds. Cynar can hold its own against any spirit, pairing with, partnering and bolstering other flavors.
According to Hawthorne, “Like all amaros, you can drink it straight, on the rocks, or in any combination of cocktails—as simple as a Cynar and soda or as complex as your imagination can take you.” For a fuller Cynar cocktail experience, without the foray into mixology, the bitter partners well with grapefruit juice and a splash of soda water. However, thanks to The Wayland, we were able to experience the durability of Cynar in The Moxie. Similar to an Old Fashioned, it is sweet and full-flavored, delivering a lingering bite coated with a syrupy thickness.
To craft this sophisticated summer drink created by The Wayland’s Jason Mendenhall, follow these steps:
2 oz Bourbon
¼ oz Cynar
1/5 oz or bar spoon of chipotle agave
3 dashes angostura bitters
Splash of club soda
Rinse of mezcal in glass
Combine and shake all ingredients, then serve over ice in a rocks glass garnished with an orange twist.
Photos by David Graver