Cynar Julepedited

The mint julep is a classic cocktail that’s just perfect for summer. Typically comprised of nothing more than bourbon, sugar and mint, the refreshing combo is poured over crushed ice and served en masse everywhere from the Kentucky Derby to backyard barbecues. And while bourbon is certainly the preferred base spirit, there’s some room for experimentation.

I first tasted an amaro julep a couple years ago at Pegu Club in New York. Since then, I’ve enjoyed playing with all manner of juleps, experimenting with rums, brandies and amari. This weekend saw us whipping up a batch of cocktails with Cynar.

If you’re unfamiliar with Cynar, it’s an Italian aperitivo made from a blend of artichoke leaves and herbs that are infused in an alcohol base. The name is derived from a property found in artichokes, “cynarin,” which modifies taste buds to make your food or drink taste sweeter. Cynar is rich and earthy — a little sweet, a little bitter — and as it turns out, it makes a damn fine julep.

Cynar Julep

2 oz Cynar
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz grapefruit juice
.5 oz simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz soda water
12 mint leaves

In a tall glass, add Cynar, mint, simple syrup and juices. Gently muddle. Then add ice, soda and splash a couple dashes of bitters on top.


Bitter Baby Julep (Created by Tonia Duffey, Dram, Brooklyn)

1.5 oz Cynar
.5 oz Campari
.5 oz Carpano Antica
.75 oz Simple Syrup
Half a lemon
Fresh mint sprigs

Muddle half a lemon with fresh mint sprigs and simple syrup. Add remaining ingredients to a cocktail shaker, and shake with ice until cold. Pour over crushed ice in a julep cup (or a double rocks glass). Then garnish with a heavy dash of Angostura bitters and a big sprig of fragrant mint.