The Little Italy (and Cynar)


I drank my first Little Italy a week or so ago at The Tar Pit. It’s a Manhattan variation with more depth in the aftertaste thanks to the Cynar (Chi-naaaar). Because the drink is on the bitter side, it’s one to be sipped instead of gulped and might not be for everyone.

Cynar is an artichoke liquor that’s bitter-sweet, leaning more into bitter. It sounds gross, but it’s pretty good if you’re a fan of bitter liquors.  I think it knocked Campari out of its spot as my favorite bitter liquor. It has the bitterness of Campari, but is more syrupy sweet upfront. It’s good in mixed drinks because unlike Campari, it doesn’t have a distinct enough flavor that screams, “Hey look, I added some Cynar to this!”  Instead, it hangs around in the background waiting to be appreciated.

According to this post, the cocktail consists of:

2 oz rye
1/2 oz Cynar
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 brandied cherries skewered on a stick
flamed orange twist

The drink is made even better if Carpano Antica (the best vermouth evar) is used for the sweet vermouth. This sweet vermouth makes every drink magical.

Brandied Cherries

DSC_5025I like cherries and I like alcohol. I love cherries in alcohol. Ever since I had the house-made cherries at a bar a few months ago, I’ve been entertaining the thought of making my own. How hard could it be, right?

In the BF’s copy of The Art of the Bar, there’s a simple recipe for brandied cherries. Brandy, cherries, some spices, and a bit of lemon. Easy peasy.

Unfortunately, the recipe was for six pounds of cherries and we only had a bit less than one pound. We cut the proportions of the recipe to fit our needs, but something must have gone wrong during the math because there was a lot less liquid than cherries. The liquid barely came up to the halfway mark on the jar filled with cherries.

Nevertheless, I put the jars in a water-bath to activate the suction-sealing mason jar tops. It was my first time water-bathing anything, so it was a little exciting. I still don’t trust these cherries to keep for a long time out of refrigeration but it was still interesting to see that the water-bath did indeed form a vacuum inside the bottle.

A day later, I broke the seal on one of our two jars to taste the cherries. Sweet, boozy, and fantastic! It was a great little treat at the bottom of my Martinez.


Next time I do this, I’ll definitely put more boozy liquid into the jar because it’d be good once it soaks up some cherry flavor.