Loyal readers of this blog might remember my struggle to come up with a drink I could enjoy that contains Campari. The Amateur Cocktail Spouse is a fan, but me not so much so. I inflicted a great number of blindingly bitter drinks on myself and friends while I played around with it. Campari and orange juice was the only one I enjoyed but I was forced to pass on actually drinking those after watching a video from the producer that called the mixture “one for the ladies.”

My great discover has been another Italian bitters called Cynar. It is made from artichokes, is not quite as bitter as Campari and is sufficiently obscure to be just the ticket. I saw a recipe that included this in a recent issue of Imbibe – the Norma Jean (apparently Marilyn Monroe was the Artichoke Queen at one point). This drink includes gin, Cynar, lemon juice, sugar and mint.  Seemed like a good mixture, minus the mint. After playing with ratios and ingredients I came up with tonight’s favorite, the Cynar-Gin cocktail:

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1 1/2 oz Cynar
  • 3/4 oz lemon/lime juice
  • 1/2 oz 2:1 simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes of Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters

Shake with ice and strain, lime or lemon twist for garnish.

This is a very enjoyable drink that has a satisfying bitter taste without being over-the-top. The Old Fashion bitters give it a spicy nose. Don’t go up on the citrus or you’ll start getting a lemonade quality to the drink.

Pokeberry update: Something funny happened shortly after my last transfer. The pokeberry wine is now pokeberry vinegar. A lovely, thick mother of vinegar formed on top of the liquid pretty quickly after I strained it off the solids.  I blame the catch-and-release fruit fly trap I had next to the fermentation container as the cause. Too many fruit flies and too little attention to hygiene on my part. Oh well, it may turn out for the best. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of pokeberry vinegar, so I can claim to be the originator of that. More importantly, there is no longer much temptation to drink the liquid – and– the increased acetic acid may help preserve the color of the ink longer. I have read that acetic acid helps set the color when poke juice is used as to dye cloth or fiber.  I still have my first batch in the refrigerator and it seems to be okay. I’ll do some comparison testing of the two liquids and see how they perform over time.