Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Jul 26, 2011

Libation Education: Cynar

You may have seen a giant bottle of this bitter apéritif with an artichoke on it at the bar and immediately recoiled.  A liqueur made with artichokes?  I'll get my vegetable fix another way!  But give Cynar (pronounced CHEE-nar) a chance.  It's popping up on cocktail menus everywhere, so get used to it.  It's a trend that's only going to get stronger.  If you're a fan of Campari and looking for something new to try, sub this libation into your Negronis.

Besides being made with artichokes, this bitter/amaro is drummed up from about 13 different herbs and plants, has a dark brown color, and is considered a digestive (yeah, it's good for you!).  It's also a part of the Gruppo Campari family, which makes Campari, Aperol, and other yummy Italian apéritifs.  And no, it tastes NOTHING like an artichoke.  That took me a good amount of convincing to some poor Bev-Mo employee when I bought a bottle.  I also think I finally convinced him to give it a try...

This rich, herbal liqueur can be drunk on the rocks, subbed in for your Campari cocktails, or can add a nice balance to a sweet cocktail.  I tend to see it mixed in with a lot of bourbon cocktails, like Matt Biancaniello's Kentucky Bubble Bath at The Roosevelt Hotel's Library Bar in Hollywood, or sometimes with a ton of other bitters like Eeyore's Requiem (Can someone please create a whole bar menu named after Winnie the Pooh characters?) at The Violet Hour in Chicago.  So next time you bop into your favorite mixology den, impress your friend by 1) pronouncing Cynar right and 2) picking a cocktail that contains it.  I think your mind will be changed about the libation in that funny looking bottle.