I haven’t participated in Mixology Monday for some months now, mostly because I, well, forgot. It didn’t occur to me that it was the Monday until everyone’s posts started cropping up, and I usually didn’t see those until I made my blog rounds on Tuesday. After the second month where I figured things out a day late and a dollar short, poor MxMo got shuffled to the back of my to-do pile. Until, that is, I got a message from this month’s host politely reminding me to get off my lazy ass and post already.
And so, here we are at Mixology Monday: Amaro, hosted by one of my favorite people in the whole world—Chuck of The Gumbo Pages. As he himself explained:
The topic for this month is Amaro, which refers to the bitter liqueurs usually drunk as an after-meal digestive, either alone (neat or on the rocks) or in some kind of mixed drink or cocktail. They tend to all share certain characteristics — drinking bitters are generally made of alcohol with any number of herbs, plus sugar and some kind of coloring. The word “amaro” means bitter in Italian, and although the more famous drinking bitters tend to come from Italy our amaro theme this month is most certainly not limited to that country. Amaro, amer, amargo, what have you. Italy, Spain, France, America, Serbia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland … wherever somebody drinks a bitter liqueur, that’s a source for your drink this month.
The cocktail I chose this month features Cynar, an amaro made from, of all things, artichokes. It has the characteristic bitter quality of an amaro with a strong vegetal characteristic that makes it a perfect match for gin. The Norma Jean was created by Los Angeles’ own Vincenzo Marianella, bartender extraordinaire at Santa Monica’s Copa d’Oro; he previously tended the bars at Providence and The Doheny, just to name a few, and both Chuck and I are big fans of his work.
2 oz gin
½ oz Cynar
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
6-7 mint leaves
Shake everything with ice cubes and double strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.
Though the ingredient list sounds pretty savory, this drink is actually quite light and refreshing. The lemon and simple help to even out the bitter edges of the Cynar, while the mint adds a bright note to its vegetal nature. The color is actually quite pretty as well—the gin, lemon and simple lighten the dark brown to a pretty burnt orange flecked with green. All in all it’s a great summery drink, especially for those who are wary of gin and/or amaros.