Cocktails & Mocktails

Cynar Toronto (Amaro Old Fashioned)

amaro old fashioned being poured into glass

This Cynar Toronto is an old-fashioned style cocktail made with an Italian amaro. This stirred drink is a perfectly balanced sweet and bitter sipper! Adding Cynar to this classic cocktail preparation lends another layer of complexity and is versatile enough to enjoy as a before-meal apéritif or as an after-dinner nightcap.

What is a Toronto Cocktail?

The Toronto cocktail was inspired by the timeless old fashioned. Classically, an old fashioned cocktail is made from sugar (or simple syrup), bitters and whiskey that are stirred with ice to dilute. A Toronto, on the other hand, is an old fashioned with the addition of a popular Italian amariFernet Branca. For this Cynar Toronto recipe, we are taking the play one step further. Instead of the intense and mentholated Fernet Branca, we are substituting a lighter and more approachable bitter: Cynar.

amaro old fashion in glass with orange twist

What is Cynar?

Cynar is an Italian amaro (meaning bitter). Amari (plural for amaro), are generally low-alcohol distillates that have been sweetened and infused with various herbs and botanicals. This category of spirits has countless examples and a history spanning hundreds of years. Amari are digestifs that helps to settle the stomach and aide in digestion after a big meal. If you are unfamiliar with amari and digestifs, the seemingly infinite options can be overwhelming. We recommend starting with Cynar for it’s lighter, sweeter palette and home-bar-friendly affordability.

Cynar, owned by the better-know Campari Group, first originated fairly recently, in 1952. Like most amari, Cynar’s recipe is a well-kept Italian secret. In fact, we know very little about what herbs and botanicals go into Cynar. (Though they sure do taste great in a Cynar Toronto!) What we do know, is that Cynar is a neutral grain spirit (16.5% alcohol) infused with thirteen herbs and botanicals…including artichokes.

Did You Say Artichokes!?

Indeed! This Cynar Toronto recipe is basically a serving of vegetables! Well, maybe that’s going too far… Nevertheless, Cynar is made with artichoke bracts (sometimes called leaves, or petals). In fact, the name Cynar actually comes from the Italian word for artichoke – cynara scolymus. Furthermore, Cynar’s Venetian creator, Angello Dalle Molle, added artichokes to this spirit for their cynarine. Cynarine, a naturally-present ester in artichokes is responsible for their sweet taste and their liver-cleansing properties. Since artichokes were abundant in the the region of Italy Angello was living, he thought they’d be the perfect stomach-settling addition to Cynar.

If you’re thinking Angello is a little crazy – you’re not the first. Needless to say, Cynar wasn’t an overnight success story. In fact, it wasn’t until nearly a decade after creation that Cynar gained any popularity at all. This amaro old fashioned ingredient was featured on Carosello, an Italian sketch-comedy advertisement show. A little humor and clever marketing that fully embraced the unusual addition of artichokes slowly won the hearts of Italians. You can watch one of Cynar’s old Carosello advertisements, here.

More recently, Cynar has become an international delight enjoyed all over the world. Case and point: We’re enjoying this Cynar Toronto recipe from Denver, Colorado! Let us know where you’re stirring Cynar into and amaro old-fashioned in the comments below!

What does Cynar Taste Like?

Fear not, this amaro tastes nothing like an artichoke! Cynar is an easy-drinking amari and tends to be sweeter than other styles. While dark and bruting in color, Cynar is surprisingly light and sugary in taste. The flavors are still quite complex and Cynar is delicious served neat, over ice, or as a savory addition to cocktails like this Cynar Toronto. Some commonly noted flavors of Cynar are…

  • Sweet and Bitter Balance
  • Herbaceous
  • Mildly Vegetale
  • Caramel
  • Espresso-like Finish
  • Slight Smokey Flavor
  • Quinine
  • Notes of Baking Spices – Think star anise and cinnamon
  • Round and Smooth
bitter old fashioned being served in a cocktail glass

Other Cocktail Recipes To Try

Check out our Cocktails & Mocktails archives for more delicious libation inspiration!


How To Make Simple Syrup

For this Cynar Toronto recipe, we are using simple syrup in place of granulated sugar. Personally, we prefer using simple syrup that will dilute smoothly into our cocktails. Typically, for simple syrup, we use a 1:1 sugar to water ratio for our cocktail recipes. It’s as simple as it sounds! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup (59 milliliters) water
  • 1/4 Cup (50 grams) granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Firstly, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. While stirring constantly, heat sugar and water until sugar in completely dissolved and transparent.
  3. Finally, cool simple syrup to room-temperature (or colder!) before using! Unused simple syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Share Your Success!

Whew! That was a lot of Italian words and artichoke talk! Am I right? In conclusion, what you really need to know is that this is a delicious cocktail. If you are a fan of Old Fashioned or Manhattan style cocktails – this one is for you! Adding a little Cynar amaro to an old fashioned adds a whole new flavor profile. The herbaceous bitter qualities of Cynar pair perfectly with whiskey’s natural sweetness. When this Cynar Toronto recipe makes its way to your table, be sure to drop us a star rating! And, as always, mention @foodworthfeed or tag #foodworthfeed in your Instagram posts and stories! We’d love to feature you on social! We love having a seat at your table, you’ll always have one at ours. Cheers!

side view of amaro old fashioned

Cynar Toronto (Amaro Old Fashioned)

This Cynar Toronto is an old-fashioned style cocktail made with an Italian amaro. This stirred drink is a perfectly balanced sweet and bitter sipper!
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Course: After Dinner, Happy Hour
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Amaro Old Fashioned, Bitter Old Fashioned, Cynar Old Fashioned, Cynar Toronto, Cynar Whiskey Cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail
Disclaimer: Please be aware that when using the recipe multiplier (1x/2x/3x) only the quantities in the ‘Ingredients’ list will change. Any specific quantities mentioned in the ‘Instructions’ text will refer to the original (1x) recipe quantity.

Special Equipment

  • Yari (or equivalent cocktail mixing vessle)
  • Cocktail Strainer

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rye, bourbon or Canadian whisk(e)y (See Note: a)
  • ½ ounce Cynar
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange twist
  • Ice as needed for stirring

Instructions

  • Gather, measure and prepare the  ingredients as listed. To view metric measurements, toggle the US Customary/Metric switch at the top of this recipe card.
  • Combine rye, bourbon, or Canadian whisk(e)y with Cynar, simple syrup and Angostura bitters in yari, or equivalent cocktail mixing vessel. Fill with ice and stir for 30 seconds
  • Strain the contents of yari into old fashioned cocktail glass
  • Garnish the cocktail with an orange twist. Serve immediately and enjoy! 

Notes

a. Fun Fact! In the United States and Ireland, we spell whiskey with an ‘e’! In Scotland and Canada, whisky is spelled without the ‘e’. Generally speaking, bourbon will lead to sweeter cocktails, rye will have lend a spicier background and Canadian whisky will have a softer, rounder mouthfeel. Any style will work well in this recipe! Personally, we tend to opt for a decent quality mixing rye. 

Nutrition

Calories: 42kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 1g | Iron: 1mg
Did You Try This Recipe?Please leave a star rating! Then snap a pic & mention @foodworthfeed or tag #foodworthfeed to be featured on our Instagram stories!

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