Cynar is a popular Italian bitter liqueur that’s worth adding to your collection! Here’s more about it and how to use it in cocktails.
Looking for the next best liqueur to add to your collection? Try Cynar! This trendy Italian bitter liqueur (amaro) is gaining steam in American mixology. Why? The bittersweet flavor is full of nuance, with intriguing notes of caramel, toffee, and mint. It’s great on the rocks, or even better in cocktails like a spritz or a Negroni. And we’ve got news for you: you’re probably saying it wrong!
What is Cynar?
Cynar is an Italian bitter liqueur made with 13 herbs and spices, including artichoke leaves. The name is derived from the scientific name for artichoke (cynara), and a bright green artichoke in the logo. It’s considered an Italian amaro or bitter (amaro means “little bitter” in Italian). On the spectrum of amari from very bitter to very sweet, Cynar is somewhere in the middle.
Cynar was invented in 1952 by an entrepreneur from Venice, Italy. Gruppo Campari, the company that sells Campari, bought Cynar in 1995 and it’s been manufacturing and distributing it ever since.
How to say it? Pronounce Cynar as “Ch-NAHR.”
What does Cynar taste like?
Cynar is bittersweet, with notes of caramel, toffee and cinnamon, and an bitter herbal finish. It’s sweeter than other amari, though it’s not as sweet as Aperol. It’s an approachable and easy to drink amaro. With its dark brown color, it’s similar to caramel-flavored amari like Meletti and Averna.
What aIt’s also very low alcohol: it is 33 proof or 16.5 percent ABV.
How much alcohol is in Cynar? It is 16.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), so it has a very low alcohol content. Compared to other amari, Cynar is on the low end. For example, Aperol is the lowest alcohol at 11% ABV, Campari is 24% ABV, and Fernet-Branca is the highest at 40 to 45% ABV (the same level as whiskey, rum, vodka and gin).
Are there any Cynar substitutes? Try Meletti, Amaro Nonino, or Amaro Averna. They’re similar, but have subtle flavor differences. Avoid Montenegro (tastes like roses) or Fernet-Branca or Campari, as they are much too bitter. We recommend finding the real thing if at all possible!
Why we like it
Cynar is full of nuanced herbal flavor, and we’re always up for another amari to add to our collection! It’s a great low ABV liqueur. It’s great in a spritz, or just watered down with soda water. Even better, try the Cynar cocktails below: we like the Cynar Negroni even better than a classic one.
How much does it cost?
Compared to other liquors, Cynar is mid-priced. A 750 ml bottle costs about $20.
Most popular Cynar cocktails
Drink Cynar straight or on the rocks as an aperitif. It’s is also fantastic in cocktail recipes. Don’t want to follow a recipe? Mix it with soda water to create a make-shift spritzer. Or, check out these favorite cocktails:
The Cynar Negroni is an intriguing spin on the classic featuring this Italian liqueur! It gives it a bitter, citrusy, and mellow flavor.
- 1 ounce* gin
- 1 ounce sweet or semi-sweet red vermouth
- 1 ounce Cynar
- Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)
- For the garnish: Lemon peel
- Combine the gin, sweet vermouth, and Cynar in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
- Add ice to a lowball glass, and strain the drink into the glass.
- Use a knife to remove a 1″ wide strip of the lemon peel. Squeeze the lemon peel into the drink to release the oils. Gently run the peel around the edge of the glass, then place it in the glass and serve.
*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons
- Category: Drink
- Method: Stirred
- Cuisine: Cocktails
- Diet: Vegan
More cocktail guides
Need more liquor guides? We’ve got them! Here’s all you need to know about home bartending:
- Absinthe Guide This formerly banned liquor is now in good graces.
- Aperol Guide and Campari Guide All you need to know about these Italian liqueurs.
- Baileys Guide All the ins and outs of Irish Cream.
- Chartreuse Guide This pale green liqueur is worth adding to your collection…here’s why.
- Cointreau Guide, Blue Curacao Guide, or Orange Liqueur Guide Citrus liqueurs…broken down.
- Galliano Guide Is this bright yellow liqueur worth buying?
- Grenadine Guide It’s mistaken as cherry, but this bright syrup has a secret.
- Fernet Branca Guide Here’s why people love this Italian bitter.
- Kahlua Guide Learn about this popular Mexican coffee liqueur
- Peanut Butter Whiskey Guide All about the uniquely nutty Skrewball