Known for its world-class Malbec, Argentina is slowly warming up to another liquor: Cinzano. Developed in faraway Turin in the eighteenth century, Cinzano is an Italian vermouth characterized by its sweet yet full-bodied texture. Being a country of immigrants, Cinzano made the transatlantic journey to Argentina along with the large Italian population that migrated to the country’s shores.
If you haven’t had Cinzano before, you’re missing out. Here’s the lowdown: it comes in four versions, all perfect for mixology. Cinzano Rosso is the most popular in Argentina, and noticeable by its amber color. It’s slightly fruity, but has some great smoky notes. There’s also Bianco, which is made from dry white wine, Extra Dry, which like the name suggests is pretty dry (and as far as I have seen, not available in Buenos Aires), and Rosé, which is the newest addition to the Italian familia, is made from a sweet Rosé with light notes of orange.
I decided to scour the bars and boliches of Buenos Aires to compile a list of 5 Cinzano cocktails worth a drink.
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Here they are, ordered by how good they are:
1. Cinzano On Fire
Ok, so this was literally on fire. Ordered at La Floreria Atlantico, a flower shop with an underground bar that was rated the best in Latin America, this was an amazing Cinzano cocktail. Made of Cinzano Dry, Cinzano Rossa, Santa Julia tempranillo (a white wine), soda, lime and lemon, it had a strong vermouth taste, but great tangy citrus notes. It was pretty alcoholic, but the flavors mixed very well together. The Cinzano and the Santa Julia white wine balanced very well, and the citrus gave the drink a great kick of flavor.
2. The All-Time Classic, Cinzano And Soda
While the flaming cocktail was amazing, don’t let it be your first introduction to Cinzano. Your first taste of Cinzano should be simple, with just soda, like mine was. Ordered at La Esperanza De Los Ascurra, a long name for a tiny Spanish tapas bar in Buenos Aires, this was just Cinzano, soda, and a dash of lemon. It was light, it was tangy, it was refreshing, and it was 100% delicious. I stopped counting after my third. It was that good.
3. The New Classic, Cinzano And Tonic
Cinzano, tonic water and orange juice. Ordered at La Carniceria, a popular steakhouse in Buenos Aires, this was one of the many revelations of the night. While steak and wine is usually the customary order in Argentina, we were shocked when our server recommended this Cinzano cocktail with the enormous chunks of meat we just ordered. Thank god he did.
The Cinzano dry went really well with the orange juice and the tonic water. While the juice was very citrusy-y, the Cinzano added some great dryness to the overall flavor profile, making it a great companion to that juicy steak. Move over Malbec, cinzano is here to replace you!
4. Passionfruit Cinzano
In case you didn’t know, passionfruit, or maracuya, as they call it here in Argentina, is a pretty big deal in South America. When it’s in season, almost everything in town has a little bit of passionfruit in it. So did this cocktail.
It had passionfruit, sake, mango, and cinzano. Ordered at one of the few Asian, and even fewer Southeast Asian restaurants in Buenos Aires, Green Bamboo, this cocktail did not disappoint. Made by one of the best mixologists in the city, each component was perfectly showcased: the sake brought a light, soft flavor to the drink, while the dryness of the cinzano was perfect in offsetting the sweetness of the passionfruit and mango. Definitely a “must order.”
5. Cinzano A La Francaise
While it was made in Italy, a little French twist wouldn’t hurt your cinzano. Back at Floreria Atlantico, they combined cinzano with some lovely dry Chardonnay, St. Germain (a French elderflower liqueur), pollen, lime, and passionfruit. It came in a great little bell jar, and was meant to be shaked thoroughly before consumption. The dryness of the cinzano and Chardonnay played well with the sweetness of the passionfruit and the tartness of the lime. While the cinzano wasn’t exactly the star of the drink, it was a welcome addition.