Monday, May 19, 2008

An Episode With Cynar

I was enjoying a drink at Milk & Honey's miniscule bar a month ago when I noticed a mural painting of the Cynar logo on the wall. It had been distressed so as to look decades old. Sasha Petraske, the owner, was on hand, so I asked him if he had painted the image because of his love of the Italian apertif. "God, no. I just have always loved the logo. I think Cynar is what they make you drink when you go to hell."

For those who don't know, Cynar is a bitter liqueur made from 13 herbs and plants. But nobody really cares about 12 of them. They only know the 13th: artichoke. Cynar makes sure you don't forget it's derived from artichokes by putting a big picture of the green vegetable on the label.

Sasha's comment made me wonder if Cynar could ever be a component of a successful cocktail. I got my answer this weekend at Death & Co., where I noticed a drink on the menu composer of Gin, Vermouth and Cynar calle "Cynartown." (I'm pretty sure that was the name.) I asked head bartender Phil Ward about it, and he seemed to have no reservations recommending it. He was the anti-Sasha. "I love Cynar," he said.

The potion was composed of two ounces Beefeater Gin, 3/4 ounce Carpano Antica, and 1/2 ounce Cynar. It was smooth and silky, a elegant mix of herbal flavors. It went down quick, as did the two cherries that came with it. There's hope for Cynar yet.

The Birth of the Cynarata


Seamus said...

I noticed your Cynar drink and decided to throw up a Cynar drink of my own. I made something up a few weeks back and had bee meaning to get it on my site for a while. Lets declare it International Cynar Day!

Robert Simonson said...

Great, Seamus. Where can I find your drink?

Seamus said...

Oh. . . I forgot to mention my site.

You'll find the drink there.

John Martin said...

There's a class of drinks called "Black Manhattan"'s that substitute some amaro or bitter for the sweet vermouth.

Here's my drink du jour:

3 ounces Rye Whiskey (I used Russell's)
3/4 ounce Cynar
dash Fee Brother's Orange Bitters.

Stir briskly, strain and serve up with a cherry.

The Cynar dramatically cuts the normal sweetness of the Manhattan, sending it pleasantly to the dark side.