Cynar Cocktail: Red Letter Day

redletterdayI didn’t realize what Cynar could do until I went to Buenos Aires, where it’s a more popular cocktail ingredient than vodka. Even though Cynar is made with artichoke leaves, it doesn’t actually taste like artichokes. It has more of a bittersweet herbal flavor that adds a little kick to drinks. (The Cynar folks tell me it’s named after cynarin, a property of artichokes that makes your tastebuds perceive food and drink as sweeter.)

Speaking of the Cynar folks … they sent me a lovely package that included Cynar and some other cocktail ingredients. I don’t post recipes sent by brands unless I like them. And this one was a big hit with me! It’s light and refreshing (perfect warm for late-summer nights) but with a sophisticated depth and hint of sweetness that doesn’t take over your palate like sweeter Mojito-style cocktails can.

Cynar isn’t as whammo bold as Campari, though they are both aperitifs. But it still offers that touch of Italy and bitterness that is perfect for before a meal (or after).

Red Letter Day

1 ounce Cynar
1 ounce Applejack
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce ginger syrup
1/4 ounce grenadine
Club soda to top (about 4 ounces, according to taste)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour all ingredients except the club soda and bitters into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Then strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with soda and bitters.

I used Laird’s Bonded Applejack, Morris Kitchen ginger syrup, and Fee Brothers grenadine. But you could make your own ginger syrup by cooking upĀ  2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, and a six-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced. As for grenadine, I recommend making DIY grenadine.

Recipe by Tonia Guffey of Dram in Brooklyn

Apple Cocktails

Sparkling Apple Cocktail from Andrea Meyers

Hurray for Fall! I’ve been saying that a lot lately, but it needs to be said because Fall is wonderful. This is the season for apples, so I’ve rounded up some great apple cocktails. Many use applejack (aka apple brandy), which is a spirit that you should try if you haven’t already. (If you’d like to try more applejack-based cocktails, check out this post.)

Addams’ Apple ~ This is a very autumnal drink indeed, with applejack, apple cider, allspice dram, and a few dashes of orange bitters. If you’ve been playing along at home with some of my DIY drinks projects, you could use homemade allspice dram and DIY orange bitters.

The Sidewalker ~ I love maple syrup in cocktails, so mixing it with applejack, lemon, and apple cider vinegar and then topping off with some wheat beer is a totally intriguing idea to me. Sounds like a good afternoon sipper.

Apple Toddy ~ Possibly the coziest drink in the world, this warm cocktail includes baked apples and your choice of applejack, Cognac, or bourbon. If you don’t have a fireplace, you should probably put one in so you can drink this in front of it.

Sparkling Apple Cocktail ~ Who can say no to a drink made with Cognac, apple, and sparkling wine? The answer is no one, that’s who. Sounds like a Thanksgiving cocktail option to me!

Portero Buck ~ It’s not just about applejack and Cognac this season. This drink combines gin, apple juice, lime, ginger beer, and basil for a unusual but totally addictive Fall cocktail.

Apple Brandy Cocktails

Nouveau Sangaree from Serious Eats

Usually when we say “brandy,” we mean brandy made from grapes. But brandy can be distilled from all sorts of fruits. Apple brandy (also known as calvados or applejack) is a very flexible and freakin’ delicious spirit. So if you’re looking to expand your horizons beyond the typical vodka, gin, whiskey, or tequila options, go for apple brandy!

Here are some cocktails to try with your new friend, apple brandy:

Calvados Sidecar ~ The Sidecar is one of my favorite cocktails. It’s simple and delicious. Using calvados (or applejack) instead of Cognac is a fun substitution.

La Vita e Bella ~ This creative combination of calvados with sparkling wine and Campari along with a little brown sugar and grenadine is a playful balance between fruity and bitter.

The Normandy ~ Using green apple and brown sugar with a little lemon juice makes for a sophisticated, apple-pie-in-a-glass experience.

Harvest Sour ~ A classic twist on the sour, with rye, applejack, lemon, and an egg white foam looks great but is so easy to make.

Nouveau Sangaree ~ Leave it to PDT to come up with a cocktail that mixes red wine, maple syrup, and applejack for an amazing and unique drink.