New artichoke-based liqueur is latest entry on amaro shelf


Amari, those bitter, Italian-style digestivi, are quite the rage behind the bar, and all the fruits and vegetables with a bitter side are getting to show their stuff. We’ve seen rhubarb, arugula, sour orange and cardoons in the mix along with the typical herbs, barks and roots that add their depth and richness to these macerated spirits.

Now comes the artichoke — the bitter, beautiful thistle with a tough exterior and a tender heart. A longtime favorite in Italy, amaro made from artichokes (or carciofi in Italian) has recently gained popularity in the States. The most common artichoke liqueur is the classic Italian brand, Cynar, which is experiencing a surge of popularity in bars, both as cocktail ingredient and as cocktail star. The Cynar Julep at Ronero, packed with fresh mint and hand-crushed ice, showcases Cynar’s bittersweet self in a refreshing spring appearance. 

Less sweet then Cynar, the new C3 Carciofo, a domestic version from Washington, D.C., distillery Don Ciccio & Figli, shows how deep and savory an artichoke liqueur can go. Like all of founder/distiller Francesco Amodeo’s handcrafted creations, it is complex, Old World and unique in flavor. 

Amodeo, known for his small batch Italian-style spirits based on family recipes, infuses his C3 with a blend of three types of artichokes, grapefruit and 18 botanicals. It is then barrel-aged for a full year. “My (distiller) grandfather Giovanni gave me the 18 botanicals blend recipe,” says Amodeo. “He said to me, ‘You have to make sure that your artichoke aperitivo will taste like it has been made in 1950.’ Since he tasted the first Cynar bottles made around that time, he wanted me to be able to create a product that reminded him of the original.” 

I recently tried it as a one-to-one substitute for Campari in my negroni recipe, and the Artichoke Negroni earned an immediate top spot in my cocktail rotation. Lee Zaremba, formerly general manager and head bartender at Chicago’s Billy Sunday, (which, by the way, holds the largest collection of vintage amari outside of Italy) adores the new liqueur and created the cocktail, A Loss for Words, to “showcase its interesting attributes.” It’s a dry, boozy, bitter affair, which allows this powerful amaro to be highlighted by the richness of malted bourbon and the herbs and spices in the genever and fenugreek syrup. 

When I asked Zaremba how he named his cocktail, he said, “it’s hard to describe, I like that about it.” Imagine the first person who tried to describe an artichoke. 

——— 

A LOSS FOR WORDS 

Prep: 5 minutes 

Makes: 1 drink 

Lee Zaremba created this drink to showcase C3 Carciofo. He makes his own bitters and fenugreek syrup, but you can sub with any herbaceous bitters and use plain simple syrup, or make your own fenugreek syrup. 

1 ounce bourbon 

3/4 ounce genever 

1/2 ounce C3 Carciofo 

1/4 ounce fenugreek gomme or simple syrup, see note 

1 dash angelica root bitters 

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice; stir. Strain into a rocks glass over ice (preferably 1 giant cube). Serve with an orange twist. 

Note: For fenugreek syrup, cook 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds, toasted, in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Simmer a few minutes. Then cool before using. You can also omit the fenugreek.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food & Dining

This Friday is the LAST Yellow Cab Food Truck Rally of the season
This Friday is the LAST Yellow Cab Food Truck Rally of the season

Dry your tears -- you still have one more huge event to celebrate your favorite food trucks.  The last Yellow Cab Food Truck Rally of the season will be held from 5-10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20.  The event will feature an eclectic mix of gourmet food trucks, free live music and local craft beers.  Featured Food Trucks: - Ramen Rickshaw...
FOOD DEAL: How to get a free milkshake on Oct. 18 in Dayton
FOOD DEAL: How to get a free milkshake on Oct. 18 in Dayton

If you’re a milkshake fan, you’re in luck. MOD Pizza, located at 5225 Cornerstone N. Blvd., Centerville, is giving away FREE vanilla milkshakes on Wednesday, Oct. 18, according to a Facebook event. No purchase is necessary, but you must follow MOD Pizza on social media to receive the deal. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram...
Many veterans go hungry - and VA's new plan to fix it
Many veterans go hungry - and VA's new plan to fix it

When Greg Stegall left the Navy at 30 years old, he found himself utterly adrift: a single dad with no degree, no clear plans for the future and a short résumé in a down job market. Struggling to find work, Stegall put his son in a boarding school for poor children and asked his parents for money and food. Nearly 30 years later, Stegall...
Wildfires sweep across the 'face of the California wine industry'
Wildfires sweep across the 'face of the California wine industry'

Adam Lee walked for miles through a wildfire-ravaged neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California, that looked like a "nuclear zone" to see whether his winery had withstood the huge, fast-moving wildfires sweeping through the area. When Lee emerged from the ash and the smoke, he learned he had been lucky: Siduri Wines was one of the few buildings...
Breastfeeding reduces breast cancer risk
Breastfeeding reduces breast cancer risk

Breast cancer seems to have touched everyone in one way or another -- whether a relative or friend or yourself. I'm thankful my mom is a two-time survivor. To mark National Breast Cancer Month in October, the American Institute of Cancer Research highlights a finding from its recent report -- mothers who breastfeed have lower risk of breast cancer...
More Stories