May 28, 2018

The Road Dog, a Cynar Twist on the Classic Manhattan Cocktail

The Road Dog cocktail is a few slight changes away from the ever popular Manhattan.

Exchange the sweet vermouth for Cynar, add a dash of absinthe, and use a grapefruit peel instead of the usual orange, and you have yourself what I have decided to call the Road Dog.

Lazy summer days can make for lazy cocktail creating as is have perfectly demonstrated here. By making simple substitutions, you can create tons of different cocktails that are uniquely different from the classic version.

So I began this experiment by using Cynar, which is an artichoke amaro.

The Cynar gives a manhattan type drink a more dark and bitter profile than one with sweet vermouth, and it sounded good to use grapefruit to cut through in place of the standard orange zest.

The grapefruit worked perfectly.

A few months ago I enjoyed a cocktail at Marble and Rye, a bar in downtown Buffalo, that used grapefruit oil to the same effect in a cocktail with whiskey and rubarbaro. Rubarbaro has many similar flavors to Cynar, so I tried to make some of the same flavors I remembered enjoying in that cocktail.

If you are ever in downtown Buffalo, be sure to stop in to Marble and Rye for a drink!

The ingredients for this twisted Manhattan

The short and sweet: use a nice spicy rye (I love Rittenhouse), and the classic version of Cynar (not the 70 proof one).

Other than that, this is just a straight up, nothing fancy, brown and boozy cocktail.

The absinthe has the same purpose as the grapefruit, cutting through the dark flavors of rye and Cynar, but if you don't have any, or don't like anise flavors feel free to skip it.

Absinthe is often a great way to help lift the flavors as a background note in drinks. When it plays a large roll it can be overpowering, but adding a few dashes can be a good way to fill in when a drink just needs a little extra something.

Mix it nice, and make a fancy peel garnish after expressing the oils over the drink if you have the time.

The Road Dog cocktail is a simple twist on the classic Manhattan with some more herbal and smokey hints in the background.


  • 2 oz Rye Wiskey
  • 1 oz Cynar
  • 1/4 tsp Absinthe - optional
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 piece Grapefruit Peel


  • Add all the ingredients to your mixing glass.
  • Add ice and stir until desired chill and dilution is reached.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and express the oils of the grapefruit peel over the drink.


If you are not a fan of absinthe feel free to skip that ingredient.
You could also mess around with using different types of citrus peels to finish. I went with grapefruit because i think it goes well with the smokiness of the Cynar, but see what you like best.
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Servings: 1
Tag me at @mydrinkinghobby when you make this!

Share The Road Dog!

Some useful links:

One of the best ways to start experimenting with making your own cocktails is to go off of a classic. Start with something you already know is good!

Hit me up on the gram!

I love checking out the drinks people are making, so tag me @mydrinkinghobby or use #drinkinghobby

I love checking out the drinks people are making, so tag me @mydrinkinghobby or use #drinkinghobby

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