Bitter Giuseppe


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Introduction to the Bitter Giuseppe

The Bitter Giuseppe stands as a testament to the complexity and charm of Italian aperitifs. With its unique blend of Cynar, sweet vermouth, and citrus, this cocktail offers a bittersweet symphony that tantalizes the palate. It’s a drink that commands attention, perfect for those who revel in the interplay of herbal and sweet flavors.

Originating from the vibrant cocktail culture of Italy, the Bitter Giuseppe has made its way into the hearts of connoisseurs worldwide. Its rich history and distinctive taste profile make it a staple for any mixologist. Let’s dive into the layers that make up this intriguing concoction.

Whether you’re winding down after a long day or looking to impress guests with your mixology prowess, the Bitter Giuseppe is a choice that speaks of sophistication. Read on to discover the secrets behind crafting this classic cocktail.

Key Facts About the Bitter Giuseppe

  • Alcohol Volume: Approximately 20% ABV (40 proof)
  • Calories: Roughly 164 kcal per serving
  • Glass Type: Served in a chilled double old-fashioned glass
  • Garnish: Aromatic lemon twist

Interesting Facts about the Bitter Giuseppe

  • The Bitter Giuseppe is often enjoyed as an aperitif, stimulating the appetite with its herbal notes.
  • Cynar, the cocktail’s primary ingredient, is an artichoke-based bitter liqueur that adds a unique vegetal quality.
  • Adjusting the lemon juice and orange bitters can tailor the cocktail to your personal taste preference.

Bitter Giuseppe Cocktail

Tasting Notes on the Bitter Giuseppe

The Bitter Giuseppe is a dance of flavors, with the Cynar providing a robust, earthy bitterness that’s softened by the sweet vermouth. The addition of lemon juice adds a bright, acidic counterpoint, while the orange bitters bring a subtle spiciness and depth.

This cocktail is not for the faint of heart; it’s for those who appreciate a drink with character. It’s a perfect pre-dinner sipper, setting the stage for a flavorful meal. The Bitter Giuseppe is also a hit at gatherings, offering a sophisticated alternative to more common cocktail choices.

The Bitter Giuseppe suits occasions that call for contemplation and conversation. It’s a drink that lingers on the palate and in the mind, making it ideal for intimate get-togethers or a solitary moment of relaxation.

History of the Bitter Giuseppe

The Bitter Giuseppe’s origins are somewhat shrouded in mystery, with various bartenders laying claim to its creation. What is known is that it emerged from the rich tradition of Italian aperitivo culture, where bitter liqueurs are savored to awaken the senses.

Cynar, the star of the show, was introduced in the 1950s and quickly became a beloved ingredient in Italy’s cocktail scene. The Bitter Giuseppe likely evolved as an innovative way to showcase this distinctive amaro.

Over the years, the cocktail has evolved, with bartenders around the world putting their own twist on the classic recipe. Yet, the essence of the Bitter Giuseppe remains the same—a celebration of the complex flavors that define Italian aperitifs.

Bitter Giuseppe Ingredients

  • Cynar (2 oz): A dark, bittersweet liqueur with artichoke at its core, Cynar is the backbone of this cocktail, providing a rich herbal base.
  • Sweet Vermouth (1 oz): This fortified wine adds sweetness and complexity, balancing the bitterness of the Cynar.
  • Lemon Juice (1/4 oz): The citrus zing cuts through the sweetness, adding a refreshing layer to the drink.
  • Orange Bitters (6 dashes): These bitters contribute a citrusy spice, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
  • Lemon Twist: Used for garnish, the lemon twist adds an aromatic element and a touch of elegance.

Did you know? The Bitter Giuseppe can be personalized by adjusting the lemon juice and orange bitters to suit your taste for sweetness or bitterness.

Preparing Bitter Giuseppe

Bitter Giuseppe Method

Chilling the Glass

Begin by placing your double old-fashioned glass in the freezer to chill. A cold glass will ensure your cocktail stays chilled longer, enhancing the drinking experience.

Combining the Ingredients

In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine 2 oz of Cynar, 1 oz of sweet vermouth, 1/4 oz of lemon juice, and 6 dashes of orange bitters. The ice should be fresh and of high quality to prevent dilution.

Stirring the Cocktail

Using a bar spoon, stir the mixture for about 30 seconds. Stirring, as opposed to shaking, preserves the clarity and texture of the drink, ensuring a smooth sip.

Straining and Serving

Strain the chilled mixture into the prepared glass filled with fresh ice. Straining removes any unwanted ice shards or herbs that may have broken off during stirring.

Garnishing with a Twist

Garnish with a lemon twist, expressing the oils over the drink to add an aromatic dimension. The oils from the lemon peel contribute to the cocktail’s olfactory experience.

Serving Suggestion for the Bitter Giuseppe

The Bitter Giuseppe is traditionally served in a double old-fashioned glass, which allows the drink’s aromas to concentrate, enhancing the sensory experience. The heft of the glass also adds to the overall enjoyment.

For garnish, a lemon twist is not just decorative but functional. Twisting the peel over the drink expresses essential oils, which add a fragrant note to the cocktail. Rubbing the rim of the glass with the peel can also impart a subtle flavor.

Elevating the Bitter Giuseppe

Quality Ingredients

Selecting high-quality vermouth and fresh lemons can make a significant difference. The fresher the ingredients, the more vibrant your cocktail will be.

Proper Technique

Stirring the cocktail to the right temperature and dilution is key. It should be cold but not overly diluted, which can mute the flavors.

Experiment with Garnishes

Beyond the classic lemon twist, consider adding a sprig of rosemary or thyme to introduce an additional herbal note that complements the Cynar.

Bitter Giuseppe Cocktail Served

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Bitter Giuseppe

If Cynar is not available, other amari like Campari or Averna can be used, though the flavor profile will change. For a less bitter alternative, try substituting with Aperol.

In place of sweet vermouth, a dry vermouth can be used for a less sweet, more herbal cocktail. If orange bitters are unavailable, Angostura bitters can provide a different but equally complex spice.

Similar cocktails include the Negroni or the Americano, which share the bitter and sweet interplay characteristic of the Bitter Giuseppe.

Add a Twist to the Bitter Giuseppe

Infuse your Cynar with additional botanicals such as juniper or coriander to introduce new flavor notes. This personal touch can make your Bitter Giuseppe stand out.

Consider using a smoked glass to add a layer of smokiness to the cocktail, enhancing its complexity. This can be achieved by smoking a glass with wood chips or a smoking gun.

For a sweeter variation, add a splash of maraschino liqueur or a few drops of honey syrup. These sweeteners can round out the bitterness for those with a sweeter palate.

Preferred Liquors for the Bitter Giuseppe

While Cynar is the traditional choice, selecting a high-quality sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica Formula can elevate the cocktail. Its rich, vanilla notes complement the Cynar beautifully.

For orange bitters, brands like Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 or Angostura Orange Bitters are recommended for their consistent quality and flavor profile.

The choice of lemon is also important; opt for organic lemons if possible, as they tend to have more aromatic oils in the peel, which is crucial for the garnish.

Similar Cocktails to the Bitter Giuseppe

If you enjoy the Bitter Giuseppe, you might also appreciate the Boulevardier, which swaps out gin for whiskey, offering a warmer, spicier take on the Negroni.

The Manhattan is another classic that shares the Bitter Giuseppe’s vermouth component, but with the addition of whiskey, it provides a different kind of complexity.

For a lighter option, the Aperol Spritz delivers a similar bittersweet flavor profile but with a bubbly, refreshing twist.

Food Pairings to Go with the Bitter Giuseppe

The herbal and bittersweet notes of the Bitter Giuseppe pair well with rich, savory appetizers like charcuterie or cheese boards. The cocktail’s complexity can stand up to strong flavors.

For a more adventurous pairing, try it with spicy Asian dishes. The bitterness can cut through the heat and complement the spices used in the cuisine.

Bitter Giuseppe FAQs

Can I make the Bitter Giuseppe without Cynar? While Cynar is ideal, other amari can be used as substitutes, though the flavor will differ.

Is the Bitter Giuseppe suitable for those new to bitter cocktails? It can be an acquired taste, but adjusting the sweetness with more vermouth or less lemon juice can make it more approachable.

What’s the best time to enjoy a Bitter Giuseppe? Traditionally served as an aperitif, it’s perfect before a meal to stimulate the appetite.

Can I batch prepare the Bitter Giuseppe for parties? Yes, you can mix a larger quantity in advance, but add the lemon juice fresh to maintain its zing.

How important is the garnish? The lemon twist is essential for adding the aromatic oils that complete the cocktail’s profile.

Bitter Giuseppe_001

Bitter Giuseppe

The Bitter Giuseppe is a sophisticated, herbaceous cocktail that features the bitter Italian aperitif Cynar, sweetened with vermouth, and balanced with lemon juice and orange bitters. It's a perfect choice for those who appreciate a drink with depth and complexity.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 164 kcal


  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Jigger or measuring device
  • Strainer
  • Double old-fashioned glass


  • 2 oz Cynar (60 ml)
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth (30 ml)
  • 1/4 oz Lemon Juice (7 ml)
  • 6 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Lemon twist for garnish


  • Add the Cynar, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, and orange bitters into a mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Stir the mixture until well chilled, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled double old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist, expressing the oils over the drink before dropping it in.


The Bitter Giuseppe can be adjusted to taste by varying the amount of lemon juice or orange bitters, depending on your preference for sweetness or bitterness. The cocktail is often enjoyed as an aperitif before a meal, stimulating the appetite with its herbal and bittersweet profile.
Keyword Aperitif, Bitter Giuseppe, Bittersweet, Classic Cocktails, Cynar, herbal, Italian cocktail, lemon juice, Orange Bitters, Stirred, sweet vermouth

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