Solid, touch sweet. I went for Bitter Truth's celery bitters here to get the tea notes which work well. Curious to try Scrappy's for a more up-front celery profile.
back off the maraschino, it gets too sweet and cloying — ★★★★★
Made with fennel bitters. Rich, complex, quite likeable. — ★★★★
Joe B. introduced me to this cocktail on 3/6/16 as he took pity on me while we were waiting for the kitchens to be repaired in our apt. house.
Bitter and balanced — ★★★★★
The bourbon dilutes the sweetness of the Cynar and Maraschino, but the cocktail is still a bit sweet. There is no acid to moderate the bitterness of the Cynar, so it is solidly bitter-sweet. One dash of Scrappy's Celery bitte — ★★★★
Choke and Smoke — Cynar, Islands Scotch, Brown sugar cordial, Orange peel, Kosher Salt
I've made this now with both bourbon and rye. It's an excellent drink in both iterations: spicy, dark, strong, not too sweet (though maybe still too sweet for some), integrated and balanced. The rye version wins by a hair for me as it makes a dryer drink and its spice plays well with the bitters. (not having celery bitters, I went in a different direction and used Dutch's Colonial, which have a woodsy and anise-y character that plays well with Cynar and rye. Not sure whether that changes the cocktail enough to merit a new name.) The rye and Cynar open the sip while the Maraschino lingers in the finish. The rye draws some cool dark cherry notes out of the Cynar and the two together develop an almost cola taste, but an herbal, 19th Century cola. Moderately but pleasurably bitter. Recommended for fans of the New York-themed Bitter/Brown/Stirred standbys (Little Italy, Red Hook, etc). My only complaint is its name: a great drink deserves a better one. 4.5/5