Monday, August 11, 2014

Mahogany (1975)

Today's installment of SiscoVanilla at the Movies takes us from the hard scrabble streets of Chicago to the glamorous fashion world of 1970's Rome in the movie Mahogany (1975). Tracy (Diana Ross) is an aspiring fashion designer from the inner-city of Chicago that puts herself through fashion school in the hopes of becoming one of the world’s top designers. Her life takes an unexpected turn as a fashion model in Rome that will cause her to make a choice between the man she loves (Billy Dee Williams) or her newfound success. Also starring Jean-Pierre Aumont and Anthony Perkins.

The movie has a couple of liquor references. As you can see from the picture below there's the placement of bottles of J&B Scotch Whisky and Grand Marnier Orange Liqueur.

There are also numerous instances of champagne being poured and drunk in various party scenes throughout the movie. You can see a number of these pictures on my Tumblr entry for SiscoVanilla Presents Mahogany (1975) Part I. One liquor reference that is not so obvious can be found in the scene where Tracy visits the Gavina Agency.

On the wall is an advertising for a product called Cynar. What is Cynar? Well, keep reading.

Cynar (pronounced “chee-NAHR”) is an Italian bitter liqueur made from 13 herbs and plants. As the sign says "L'Aperitivo CYNAR A Base di Carciofo", the main base of the Amaro is artichoke (carciofo/carciofi). Yes, that same vegetable that looks like a little tree. Cynar is dark brown in color and has a bittersweet flavor. It has relative low alcohol level of 33 proof/16.5% ABV. Here is how Cynar is described from the Cynar webpage on the Campari Group website:
The artichoke liqueur known for its versatility and taste, Cynar is an artichoke based bitter. Its distinctive flavour is enriched from an infusion of 13 herbs and plants, making it a completely natural drink, rich in scents and a unique taste . It perfectly conserves all the health properties of the ingredients used in its preparation. Only moderately alcoholic (16.5%) Cynar is a modern and versatile drink that is always welcome.

Cynar was launched on the market in 1952, and its history is closely tied to its successful television advertisements interpreted in the 1960s by Ernesto Calindri. In 1995 Cynar became part of Gruppo Campari that has grown the brand into a “digestif apertif” and one of the main players in the “after dinner” category.

Cynar is distributed internationally, its main markets are Brazil, Italy and Switzerland
In the article All Choked Up: Embrace the bittersweet allure of Cynar by Hannah C. Feldman from the May/June 2009 issue of Imbibe Magazine, Seattle-based cocktail blogger Robert Hess recommends using Cynar in drinks that call for Campari to create a softer, smoother version of classics like the Negroni. He also suggests using it as you would bitters. “Take a Martini, add a dash [of Cynar] to it, and you’ve got a totally different drink.”

In the same article, Stephen Shellenberger who at the time was bar manager at the Boston restaurant Dante (and is the blogger in charge of the Boston Apothecary blogpage), calls Cynar “the greatest cocktail-centric amaro ever produced.” and suggests pairing it with sweet, fruity flavors like strawberries, “so you get kissed and slapped at the same time.” 

For some suggestions on cocktails that contain Cynar, check out this article by Lesley Jacob Solomonson entitled 4 Great Cynar Cocktails: L.A. Bartenders Love the Artichoke Liqueur from the LA Weekly blogpages dated December 20, 2013.

I have yet to have a taste of this interestingly sounding amaro. Hopefully I'll soon have a chance either behind a bar or up at the bar as a patron. Work seems to be hard to find in this soon to end summer season in NYC. Hopefully that will change after Memorial Day.

Until Then Happy Drinking,