Food - Drink
What Is Cynar, And How Do You Say It?
To cocktail aficionados, it's no secret that Italian bitters have risen in popularity over the years. With the summer go-to Aperol Spritz having taken the U.S. by storm, other bitters from Italy have now entered the scene, but many casual drinkers may not be familiar with the unusual midnight-hued bitter called Cynar, pronounced CHEE-nar.
Cynar is in the category of amari, liqueurs known for their stomach-soothing qualities and generally low booze content. Specifically, Cynar is a digestivo, an almost-medicinal Italian after-dinner drink, and the main ingredient that contributes to this spirit's fragrance is artichokes — and bartenders want you to try it before you judge.
Eden Laurin, managing partner of the award-winning cocktail bar The Violet Hour, says that "Cynar tends to be sweeter than other amari, thus making it less aggressive, more approachable and great for drinks." Try Cynar as they do in Italy: sipped on the rocks or freshened up with a splash of seltzer and a citrus twist.
Other popular European mixers include Coke, bitter lemon soda, or tonic. Laurin adds that in recent years, "bartenders are seeing more and more people moving away from sweet flavors and asking for drinks that are bitter, herbal or dry," but the balanced, bittersweet Cynar was popularized by Italian-American bartenders as far back as 1995.