What I’m Drinking: Cynar

I’m a food or drink connoisseur. But I’m not someone with a refined palette who can tell the difference between something having notes of coffee versus notes of leather. Instead I prefer to focus on whether or not something is good. My approach was best stated by the philosopher Montgomery Burns: “I know what I hate, and I don’t hate this”.

Here we answer a fundamental question of life: “should you drink this?”

What I’m drinking: Cynar

An Amaro is a type of Italian liqueur, generally made by smashing a bunch of herbs in with some base spirit. They’re usually digestifs, with overly complex flavors. True fans will try to tell you that they can taste the individual flavors. They are wrong. But the flavors do take a bit of appreciation, and are often more of an acquired taste. The most commonly known amaros in the US are Campari and the various vermouths.

Cynar specifically is an Amaro based around the artichoke. It serves as either an apertif or digestif, and has a low enough alcohol content that you should feel free to drink it at any time for any reason. It’s bittersweet, and not at all shy about it’s flavor.

Unlike most things I’ve presented in these articles, Cynar is best used as a component in a drink. Try using it to replace a component in your cocktail of choice. I’m currently drinking a Cynar Manhattan.

The color: Dark Brown.

The flavor: Bittersweet and Stuff. A bit medicinal. Just try it.

My initial thoughts: Whoa, I don’t think I’m going to finish this. Actually, maybe. Hmmm, I should try a bit more.

Mix with: Cola, orange juice, other cocktail fixings.

Drink this if you like: Amaros, or other complex liquors.

Pair with: Waiting out a pandemic.

Good for beginners? Yes. If you mean beginners when it comes to amaro.

Recommended cocktail: Negroni, Manhattan, anything with Campari or sweet vermouth.

Cost: $20

Budget Alternative: soak an artichoke in vodka.

Who would like this: People who like Campari, but want to try something different. People with a go to drink that could use a bit of variation. Elderly Italian men complaining about something.

Did my wife like this: No.

Fun facts to make you sound smart or interesting when you’re drinking it:  Artichokes are technically flower buds, they look really cool when you forget to harvest them like I did last year. Despite the medicinal flavor, Cynar will not cure Coronavirus. Cynar actually contains 13 different herbal ingredients, only 12 of which can be found on this plane of existence.

How to get this: Any liquor store.

Ideal location for drinking: Quarantine

Should you drink this: Yes.



  1. What does your wife like to drink? I don’t mean that in a snotty way, I’m curious. Because I have a feeling I might prefer her choices. I’m not big on botanical flavors, or smoky Scotches. I mentioned on Food You Can Eat that I have the palate of a 12 year old. Or in the case of adult beverages I suppose an 18 year old college freshman.

  2. This a true public service. I live in a state with state liquor stores selling at inflated prices; your review are helpful and appreciated, so that I can better target my spend or my special order with them. Cheers.

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