Obviously, There’s a Martinez Riff With Cynar Too
Forget it, Jake. It’s Cynartown.
But there’s another one from the same era that in some ways I like even better — because, well, it has Cynar.
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Not only does it contain Cynar, it’s actually called Cynartown, which is a good sign.
This drink combines several of my favorite things:
It’s a stirred-and-boozy Martinez riff
…by Phil Ward
…that contains Cynar
…and is named via a movie reference.
Yeah, I’m thinking this is a good drink.
This drink isn’t quite a neo-classic: I don’t mean that it’s unknown, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on another bar menu. It’s not the sort of drink that cocktail bartenders are likely to know unless they’re pretty serious drinks nerds.
But it should be a staple of home bars, because it’s delicious and incredibly easy to make, with just three non-obscure ingredients. This is precisely the sort of cocktail that home bartenders should make their business to know and execute well.
Structurally, regular readers may notice two obvious connections.
First, this is not too far from Phil Ward’s own Bushwick.
Like that drink, it’s a 3 ¼ ounce stirred drink in the Manhattan/Brooklyn/Martinez/Martini mold.
Where the Bushwick relies on a base of rye, this drink relies on gin, and where the Bushwick calls for a pair of modifiers — a quarter ounce each of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon1 — this calls on a half ounce of Cynar. The flavor profile is obviously somewhat different, but structurally, the drinks are quite similar.
Second, this looks an awful lot like a gin-swapped version of Audrey Saunders’ Little Italy cocktail.
Close readers might note that the original recipe for Saunders’ drink calls for Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth, while Ward’s Cynartown calls for Carpano Antica Formula. (Complicating things somewhat, I tend to tweak Saunders’ recipe to use Carpano.) But the basic point is that both these drinks are very, very close.
And yet, one is pretty obviously a Manhattan, while the other is much closer to a Martinez. They are related-but-different branches of cocktail taxonomy.
Conveniently, they are also both delicious.
½ ounce Cynar
¾ ounce sweet vermouth, Carpano Antica Formula strongly preferred
2 ounces London dry gin, preferably Beefeater2
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
Add ice, then stir until thoroughly chilled.
Strain into a coupe or Nick & Nora glass.
Garnish with a Luxardo maraschino cherry.
Currently, it is not possible to purchase Amer Picon in the United States. That may change soon. In the meantime, Bigallet China-China Amer and Amaro CioCiaro both make reasonably good substitutes.
Ward’s drink was created before the proof of Beefeater dropped in the United States. While other mass-market London dry gins have higher proofs, I think the best bet is still to stick with Beefeater, which maintains roughly the same flavor profile despite being a little weaker.