This month Mixology Monday is hosted by Chuck Taggart, who’s been running his blog, Looka!, since before I was of legal drinking age! The theme this month is amaros, the bitter liqueurs originally from Italy that are traditionally served over ice and used to aid digestion after a hefty meal.
For me amaros took quite a while to get my palate acclimatised to, and on this very site I documented my long struggle to wrap my head around Campari, one of the most common bitter liqueurs. I did eventually learn to love Campari, and since then I’ve been enjoying exploring other amaros like Amer Picon, Ramazzotti, Aperol, Amaro Nonino and Fernet Branca, though I’ve yet to even scratch the surface of this huge category of spirits.
The cocktail I’ve chosen is another creation of Gonçalo De Sousa Monteiro, Berlin bartender and Traveling Mixologist, whose drinks like the Beuser & Angus Special and Ranglum I’ve featured here before. This drink was created in 2004 and is inspired by one of my favourite Campari drinks, the Negroni. Instead of using Campari though the Berlioni makes use of Cynar, an unusual liqueur that is flavoured with artichoke lending it a distinct vegetal note that really sets it apart from other amaros.
- 1 shot / 30 ml / 1 oz Tanqueray dry gin
- ⅔ shot / 20 ml / ⅔ oz Cynar
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz Noilly Prat dry vermouth
- Stir over ice then strain in to an ice filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a large twist of orange zest.
Over a strong gin base, the Cynar lends a delcious bitter, vegetal flavour, with the dry vermouth lending some floral notes and also helping to emphasise the sweet characteristics of the amaro. The way the three ingredients work together is really delicious, and the resulting cocktail is at once reminiscent of the Negroni, yet distinct in its own right.
While on the subject of variations using Cynar, another tasty libation worth trying if you liked the Berlioni is the Bensonhurst. A sort of Manhattan/Brooklyn mix with Cynar thrown in, the drink was created by Chad Solomon and uses just a small amount of Cynar to great effect.
- 1¾ shot / 50 ml / 1¾ oz rye whiskey
- ⅔ shot / 20 ml / ⅔ oz dry vermouth
- 1 bar-spoon maraschino
- 1 bar-spoon Cynar
- Stir over ice then strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a large twist of orange zest.
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