'Clap Your Hands' is part of a series of blog posts focusing on items which were previously unavailable or difficult to come by.

Cynar. I am so glad this product is back on the shelves in Maine (thanks for the heads up, David). We had it and then it was gone. One of the most amazing, mixable amari out there...here one day, gone the next. Unless you could find a store with a bottle languishing on the shelf there's been no sign of it, in Maine, for the last few years. I don't know why it was taken off the list of items available here. Presumably it didn't sell well enough to justify the fees Maine levies on spirits. It's back now though and if you're a fan of amari, having Cynar at your disposal is a good thing.

Cynar is an amaro and like other amari it is a blend of various herbs and spices that can be bitter, sweet, complexly herbal and sometimes taste like medicine. In a good way. Most amari are great after a heavy meal but can also function as an aperitif. Cynar has been around since the early 1950s and employs a dozen or so herbs in it's blend of botanicals. Artichoke, featured prominently on the label, gets the most attention and cynarin, extracted from the artichoke leaves is used in the spirit-based infusion. There are other ingredients though, including rhubarb, orange peel and gentian.

Cynar is incredibly versatile. Try it in aManhattan variation. Sub it for Campari in the Negroni riff Gin Cin Cyn. Does it mix with rum? Yes. Scotch? Check. Tequila? Sure. Or just pour some over ice and add a twist.

Here are some others I've been enjoying now that I don't have to be so miserly with it. I've tried not to include drinks we've already posted here...though that did knock out quite a few.

Little Italy left, Little Giuseppe right

Little Italy left, Little Giuseppe right

Little Italy - Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Cynar, Cherry (with a little syrup)
Little Giuseppe - Cynar, Sweet Vermouth, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters, Salt

The Little Italy starts with cherry syrup flavor on the nose. Sweet and dark. The sip transitions to rye and that cherry flavor quickly ties into the sweet and herbal qualities of the sweet vermouth and Cynar. This is a great Manhattan style drink. Rye is still very much the backbone but the inclusion of Cynar and a little cherry syrup spins things in a slightly different direction.

The Little Giuseppe starts with a grape sweetness from the vermouth while the herbs from that ingredient tie into those of the more bitter Cynar. There's not a ton of lemon juice here which is good. It contributes a little brightness by way of acidity. There's salt but like several other drinks in this post the role salt plays is supportive. It can lift flavors up and intensify them without contributing a 'salty' flavor to the drink.

Growing Old and Dying Happy is a Hope, Not an Inevitability left, Choke Artist right

Growing Old and Dying Happy is a Hope, Not an Inevitability left, Choke Artist right

Growing Old and Dying Happy is a Hope, Not an Inevitability - Cynar, Rye, Salt, Lemon Oil, Lemon Twist
Choke Artist - Cynar, Anejo Tequila, Fino Sherry, Orange Twist

The Growing Old...starts out with an aroma of absinthe, Cynar and lemon. Rye rounds out Cynar's bitterness as it spreads across the palate while bolstering the whole affair with additional proof. Absinthe and Cynar continue to linger with the oil from the lemon twist adding a bit of brightness.

The Choke Artist transitions quickly from sherry and Cynar to tequila. The sherry offsets Cynar's sweetness and the orange bitters tie things together nicely. This one finishes with a pleasantly spicy quality.

Scorch the Earth

Scorch the Earth

Scorch the Earth - Cognac, Cynar, Sweet Vermouth, Flamed Lemon Twist

Not too dissimilar from the Little Italy this one is in the Manhattan vein but with Cognac in place of whiskey. It begins with cognac's oak, proof and slight sweetness before moving into the sweeter, herbal qualities of the vermouth and Cynar. I had not made this drink in a while but look forward to revisiting it sooner than later.

Italian Heirloom left, The Last Mechanical Art right

Italian Heirloom left, The Last Mechanical Art right

Italian Heirloom - Cynar, Blended Scotch, Islay Scotch, Salt, Lemon Twist
The Last Mechanical Art - Mezcal, Cynar, Punt e Mes, Campari, Orange Twist

The Italian Heirloom calls to mind the Growing Old and Dying Happy drink above. Both employ lemon oil from multiple twists, salt and Cynar. But whereas the Growing Old uses rye to support things the Italian Heirloom lets a tandem of scotch function in the same role. The result, as you might imagine, is a peaty, smoky depth working behind the Cynar but just barely and lasting well into the finish. Very enjoyable.

The Last Mechanical Art is a monster of intense flavors. The bitter herbal nature of Cynar and Punt e Mes and Campari set the tone offering additional notes of cocoa. Eventually this sweet and bitter trifecta begins to move toward the smoke, fruit and agave of the mezcal. This one had a long bitter finish which was very nice.

The Maloney No. 2 left, Teenage Riot right

The Maloney No. 2 left, Teenage Riot right

The Maloney No. 2 - Bonded Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Cynar, Maraschino, Orange Twist
Teenage Riot - Cynar, Bonded Rye, Dry Vermouth, Dry Amontillado Sherry, Orange Bitters, Lemon Twist

The Maloney No. 2 opens up with an abundance of herbs, spice and bitterness underscored by a slightly nutty sweetness. Sweet Vermouth, Cynar and Maraschino is a solid combination and John Durr's insistence on bonded bourbon here is understandable as anything less is unlikely to make it through the other ingredients. I used Baker's, 107 proof, which brings it's own unique bourbon goodness to the fore and gives the drink a nice backbone.

In the Teenage Riot the Cynar and sherry work together at the beginning and the sherry lingers nicely as the swallow moves toward flavors from the rye and vermouth.



Elizabetta - Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Cynar, Grapefruit Twist

Amaro Nonino is a favorite. Richly herbal, bitter, medicinal tasting and slightly sweet. The addition of bourbon stretches things out while Cynar, along with the Nonino, provides a nice, long, bitter finish.

Roman Holiday left, Bitter Giuseppe right

Roman Holiday left, Bitter Giuseppe right

Roman Holiday - Cynar, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino, Prosecco, Orange Slice
Bitter Giuseppe - Cynar, Sweet Vermouth, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters, Lemon Twist

The Roman Holiday begins with a sweet orange aroma from the garnish. The sip features grape from the vermouth with the sweeter qualities of that ingredient tying into the maraschino. The Cynar picks up on the vermouth's herbs while adding depth and bitterness. Prosecco lifts things up, stretches out the flavors and makes this one of my new favorite sparkling wine cocktails.

Bitter Giuseppe begins with lemon and orange bitters. The amount of lemon juice doesn't make the drink overly acidic or tart but it does provide a welcome brightness to the whole affair which would otherwise be dominated by a ton of herbs and spices from the Cynar/vermouth combination. Not that that's a bad thing. This is a fantastic drink that I've neglected for too long. I'm going to try and remedy that now that I can stop rationing my Cynar.


Little Italy - Audrey Saunders, Pegu Club, New York
2 oz Rye
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 tsp - Maraschino Cherry Syrup
Garnish - Maraschino Cherry

Stir, Strain, Up


Little Giuseppe - Misty Kalkofen, Drink, Boston
2 oz Punt e Mes
2 oz Cynar
1 barspoon Lemon Juice
6 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
Garnish - 1 pinch Salt

Build in highball glass over large ice chunks


Growing Old and Dying Happy is a Hope, Not an Inevitability  - Maks Pazuniak, Rogue/Beta Cocktails
2 oz Cynar
1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 pinch Salt
2 Lemon Twists
Rinse - Herbsaint, I subbed Absinthe
Garnish - Lemon Twist

Stir rye, salt and Cynar to dissolve salt. Express oil from lemon twists and drop in the mixing glass. Add ice. Stir and strain into Herbsaint/absinthe rinsed cocktail glass. Garnish.


Choke Artist - Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz, The Art of the Bar
1 oz Anejo Tequila
1 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Fino Sherry
Rinse - 5 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters
Garnish - Orange Twist

Stir with ice and strain into bitters-rinsed snifter (I used a cocktail glass).


Scorch the Earth - Gary Regan
2 oz Cognac
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Cynar
Garnish - Flamed Lemon Twist

Stir, Strain, Up


Italian Heirloom - Beta Cocktails
2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Blended Scotch
1/2 oz Laphroaig
1 pinch Salt
5 Lemon Twists
Garnish - Lemon Twist

Stir Cynar, scotch and salt to dissolve salt. Express oil from the 5 twists and drop in mixing glass. Stir with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish.


The Last Mechanical Art - Maks Pazuniak, Beta Cocktails
3/4 oz Chichicapa Mezcal, I subbed Ilegal Mezcal Joven
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
3/4 oz Campari
Garnish - Orange Twist

Stir, Strain, Up


The Maloney No. 2 - John Durr, Hawthorn Beverage Group, Louisville
1 1/2 oz Bonded Bourbon
1 1/2 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Maraschino
Garnish - Orange Twist


Teenage Riot - Tonia Guffey, Beta Cocktails
1 1/2 oz Cynar
1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Rye, I subbed Knob Creek Rye
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Lustau Dry Amontillado Sherry
2 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters
Garnish - Flamed Lemon Twist

Stir, Strain, Up


Elizabetta - Paul Manzelli, Bergamot, Somerville
1 1/2 oz Old Weller Antique Bourbon (I didn't have Old Weller or any wheated bourbon, subbed Buffalo Trace)
1 oz Amaro Nonino
1/2 oz Cynar
Garnish - Grapefruit Twist


Roman Holiday - Adam George, South Place Hotel, London
1 1/4 oz Cynar
1 1/4 oz Martini Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Maraschino
3 oz Prosecco
Garnish - Orange Slice

Build in goblet or Pinot Noir glass (or water glass, in my case) with cubed ice.


Bitter Giuseppe - Stephen Cole, Barrelhouse Flat, Chicago
2 oz Cynar
1 oz Carpano Antica (I subbed 50/50 Dolin Rouge/Punt e Mes)
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
6 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters
Garnish - Lemon Twist

Stir briefly with ice, strain over fresh ice in rocks glass.