Amaro… amaro… such a pretty, romantic word. Before moving to Durham almost 4 months ago now (wow), little did I know that I had in fact tried amaro before in the form of Fernet Branca, a more well known amaro that is hitting the food/hipster world. So aside from just a pretty name, which turns out means “bitter” in Italian, amaro is an herbal liqueur that is commonly enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif. It usually has a bitter-sweet flavor, sometimes syrupy. Thank you Mr. Wikipedia…. The second time I tried amaro was earlier this year at The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club. I had no clue what I was tasting, but I knew I enjoyed it more than Fernet Branca. At the time I was a bit distracted by the amazing aesthetic of the establishment, so much that I didn’t make note of what we were tasting. Fast forward 5 months and I instantly recognized the iconic bottle with an artichoke on it while enjoying a drink at a neighborhood cocktail hangout. Cynara scolymus, known commonly as artichoke, is the predominant ingredient that lends to the drink’s name, Cynar.
In following in the footsteps of my boozy cranberry creations from the past two years, I decided to try Cynar as the main ingredient for this years’ cranberry fun. Port was awesome, whiskey was safe, Cynar is just weird. But weird in a really complimenting way with the tart flavors of the fresh cranberries. For this recipe, I kept it quite simple: berries, spices, sugar, citrus, ginger, and booze. Depending on your palate, I’d recommend tasting your sauce before canning, though know that as the mixture sits and cools, the flavors change a bit. I wouldn’t typically opt for bitter, tart, and sweet together for my canning recipes, but as a friend all knowingly suggested pretending that I was making a strong cocktail surprisingly worked out great. Enjoy!