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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.

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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.

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:

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Cynar Negroni

Cynar Negroni (& More Cocktails!)

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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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


  1. 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.
  2. Add ice to a lowball glass, and strain the drink into the glass.
  3. 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:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. John Leifholt says:

    Dear Sonja & Alex,

    Great article on Cynar. My wife and I are doing a “date night” and we’re having dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant. I usually order a Negroni before dinner but, to be honest, I’ve been on the lookout for something new and interesting. I’m going to order the Cynar Negroni; I can’t wait to try it! Oh, and thanks for the pronunciation tip; I would have said /sy-nar/ like everyone else instead of /ch-nar/.
    Greatly appreciated!


    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      You’re welcome! Hope you enjoy! We like just a Cynar & Soda water as a simple drink as well.