La Cosa Nostra

I was trying to think of more uses for Cynar, the Italian artichoke-based aperitif that somewhat resembles Campari. I decided its bitter vegetal notes would be complemented by Kola Tonic and threw this one together. I think it works, though perhaps the Tia Maria could be toned back to 1 tsp.


Cynar has has one of the coolest label designs out there

La Cosa Nostra

2 oz Cynar

1 oz Kola Tonic* (Roses)

½ oz grappa (Carpene Malvolti)

¼ oz lemon juice

¼ oz coffee liqueur (Tia Maria)

A dash of Angostura Bitters (optional)

Build in an old fashioned glass over a couple of large ice cubes.

There are rich aromas from the grappa, an interesting interplay between the grappa and coffee (these two are always a nice match), and of course the mysterious bitterness of the Cynar. The Kola Tonic works as a pleasant sort of glue, taking the edges of the various elements and holding them all together.

The name is a bit weak. But hey, what’s in a name? I’d drink this again. It is an interesting sweetish aperitif that makes a change from the regular stuff.

Robert Simpson at Off the Presses just posted another Cynar drink. My post had been sitting around waiting to go up on the site for a few weeks, so I figured I would throw it up and declare today International Cynar Day. It may be a few years before this one becomes a statutory holiday, but get the ball rolling now by checking Robert’s drink out. It looks pretty cool. I am just going have to salivate since we don’t have Carpano Antica here in New Zealand.

UPDATE:  Sloshed just contributed this Cynar based Negroni variation.  Cynar seems to suddenly be flavor of the month.

* Kola tonic is basically cola syrup. Besides Roses (popular in South Africa), you might also find Claytons (popular in Barbados). I can’t comment on Claytons, but Roses seems a little more bitter than regular coke, and the syrup is not that concentrated (i.e. it does not require too much dilution, and pours and mixes very easily). You could probably try reducing regular Coke in a saucepan to get an approximation of kola tonic. I never tried this myself, so don’t blame me if you end up with a gruesome and unappetizing mess.


4 Responses to “La Cosa Nostra”

  1. Dinah Sanders Says:

    We’ve enjoyed a Cynar-washed Negroni. Just a rinse of the glass with Cynar before building the regular Negroni, but it adds a pleasing complexity. (I’ll have to fill in my source later; Kevin at O’Reilly’s in San Francisco came up with this one I think).

  2. John Martin Says:

    International Cynar Day, I love it.

    How about a “Black Manhattan” with Cynar standing in for the much sweeter Sweet Vermouth?

  3. seamus Says:


    That also sounds interesting. Something else i haven’t yet tried. I will have to give it a try sometime.

  4. Miguel Angel Says:

    Try mixing Cynar with a julep. With a mojito style base (muddled springs of mint with lemon and sugar) add crushed ice, cynar and top it off with grapefruit juice. It is refreshing as delicious

    Another way is makin a lime based cocktail. Muddle half a lime with sugar in a boston glass, add 2oz of cynar, 1 oz of a citric flavoured vodka, splash with your favorite aperitiff (jagermeister goes very well) and finish with 1 1/2 oz of grapefruit. This is a cocktail that goes incredibly well with all eggplants dishes.

    Congrats on the blog!!!

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