The artichoke is a vegetable of legend, immortalized by artists and poets alike who’ve embraced its many charms and wonders. The artichoke stands proud in form, yet humble in demeanor. It’s prickly, yet delicate. A tender heart surrounded by a tough exterior. Though most of us are familiar with the vegetable in its dippable or roasted form, one brand has elevated the artichoke into a compelling and intriguing aperitivo: Cynar.
On National Artichoke Day, Cynar encourages us to embrace the unexpected, reshaping the vegetable’s narrative one sophisticated cocktail at a time.
The Allure of an Artichoke Aperitivo
Aperitivo beverages have a long and colorful history. Derived from the Latin word aperire, which means “to open,” the aperitivo serves as a way to prime the palate and whet the appetite before a meal. Though there’s evidence of its existence dating back to Roman times, it wasn’t until the 1700s that it became a mainstay of Italian dining. Like an aperitivo, the story of the artichoke is also rooted in ancient times and weirdly wonderful.
According to Greek mythology, the artichoke exists because an angry Zeus turned his temper toward an unlucky lass named Cynara and transformed her into an artichoke. While things didn’t work to Cynara’s advantage, her sad fate was our good fortune — a world full of artichokes.
Artichokes have been cultivated since the 4th century B.C. Despite their long history and solid track record of being nutritionally dense and rich in antioxidants, not to mention delicious, the artichoke hasn’t entirely made it to the mainstream.
The more adventurous among us have come to recognize and appreciate the glories of this armored vegetable. Anyone who’s taken the time to break past that rough exterior is rewarded by the satisfying, nutty flavor contained within. But there’s another, easier way to enjoy artichokes: Cynar.
This unconventional, natural, and artichoke-based Italian aperitivo was first created in 1952. It’s made using 13 herbs and botanicals, the most predominant being the blessed artichoke, more specifically from cynarin, a compound found in artichokes.
While the artichoke is at the heart of Cynar, Cynar doesn’t taste like an artichoke heart. But like the artichoke itself, Cynar is full of surprises. It’s complex, equal parts sweet and bitter. It’s herbal and woody, with dried fruit notes and caramel smoothness. It’s playful and can be enjoyed neat, in mixes, or as an added twist to classic cocktails. And it’s mysterious: The full recipe remains a well-guarded secret to this day.
Cynar is happy to play a supporting role in a cocktail but equally qualified to take the lead. With its ABV of 16.5 percent, Cynar is an excellent pre- or post-dinner drink. It’s also perfect for those adventurous imbibers and mixologists who like a little quirk in their cup.
This National Artichoke Day, it’s time to start thinking of the different ways you can bring artichokes into your life. Sure, you can simply add some to your plate, but do yourself a favor and be sure to add it to your glass, in the form of an audacious Cynar cocktail.
Not sure how or where to start? Fear not, we’ve got you covered with easy-to-construct and even easier-to-enjoy Cynar cocktails.
Cynar Bitter Giuseppe
As the name suggests, this Giuseppe is a little bitter, but also intriguing and delightful. Bold and bright, with notes of bitter herbs, caramel, and toffee, think of this impressive drink as an extra interesting Manhattan with Cynar as the foundation.
- 2 ounces Cynar
- 1 ounce 1757 Vermouth di Torino Rosso
- Bar spoon of fresh lemon juice
- 6 dashes orange bitters
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- Garnish: lemon twist
- Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir.
- Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with a lemon twist.
You may think that Juleps are only for hot days, but artichokes and Cynar don’t play by those rules. This cocktail is pleasantly, softly bitter, brightly minty, and all-around delicious.
- 2 ounces Cynar
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce grapefruit juice
- ½ ounce fresh lemon Juice
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 2 ounces soda water
- Garnish: mint leaves
- In a rocks glass, add mint and all ingredients except soda water and bitters, and use a muddler to gently crush.
- Next, add ice, then soda to taste.
- Top with bitters.
Pink Artichoke Sour
With just a handful of ingredients, this cocktail is far from complex — at least to make. The flavors, on the other hand — the lemon, orange, and grapefruit, combined with Cynar’s bitter flavor — make the drink crisp and bold.
- 1 ½ ounces Cynar
- ½ ounce Aperol
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- ½ ounce rich simple syrup (2:1 ratio of sugar to water)
- 2 dashes grapefruit bitters
- Garnish: maraschino cherry
- Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice.
- Shake, strain into a coupe glass, and enjoy.
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Did you feel that? That was the Cynar Daiquiri giving you a little quake of flavor in your glass and showing how well Cynar and rum play together. Don’t duck and cover, just sip and enjoy.
- 1 ½ ounces Cynar
- ½ ounce Wray & Nephew Unaged Jamaican Rum
- ½ ounce Appleton Estate
- ¾ ounce simple syrup
- ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
- Garnish: lime wheel
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake.
- Strain into a Nick & Nora glass with fresh ice.
- Garnish with a lime wheel.
This article is sponsored by Cynar.