I have a soft spot for Cynar and Campari. I may run out of things like Benedictine, curacao, Chartreuse, even vermouth sometimes, but those two bitter ingredients are staples. Running out of them is something I try to avoid. Which usually means having emergency backup bottles on hand.

There are cocktails that feature a combination of these two ingredients (Eeyor's Requiem, The Last Mechanical Art - both from Beta Cocktails) or some other pairing of bitter ingredients (Paper Plane, Ponte Vecchio). If you tend to favor bitter drinks, all of those are worth a spin. The Paper Plane in particular has been a longstanding favorite and its easy-to-remember spirit, bitter, bitter, citrus ratio (1:1:1:1) has been responsible for many variations around the house.

At some point (maybe I was bored and out of Fernet) I wondered how Cynar and Campari would get along unadorned. The answer? Just fine. The result was rich and vibrant, capable of standing on its own but also easy to mix with. The bitter/bitter combination has plenty of flavor but not a huge wallop of alcohol (Cynar 16.5%, Campari 24%) which adds to its versatility.

I usually combine them in bulk 3:2, Cynar to Campari, and pour it in a bottle. This enables me to avoid weird fractions when I do want to work the combination into a drink. Well, I reach for it often enough that I've now taken that laziness one step further and engraved the bottle so I really don't have to measure anything when mixing the base. Cynar up to the first line. Campari to the second. I also tried to label which section was which in an effort to minimize future confusion. It turns out writing on a bottle with an engraver is tricky. And loud.




Often, I just pour this stuff in a glass, maybe add some ice and a twist, and call it good. However, it makes for a decent spin on drinks calling for vermouth, Campari or most amari. Which makes Negroni riffs a pretty solid bet. Add equal measures of this stuff and bourbon for a nice twist on the Boulevardier. Or swap Smith & Cross for the bourbon and get a tasty variation on the Kingston Negroni. 

The picture below is a riff on the Negroni Sbagliato. Or technically, the Sbagliato Due ('second mistake') since that one has gin in it. Gin plus the Cynar/Campari mix plus Prosecco, over ice. Not a bad way to ease into the late afternoon.



3:2 Negroni Riff
1 1/2 oz Cynar/Campari (mixed 3:2)
1 oz Gin
Garnish - Orange Peel

Build over ice in double old fashioned glass.