Artichoke does not immediately strike me as an appealing flavor profile for a liquor. Yet, as the featured ingredient in Don Ciccio & Figli’s C3 Carciofo, it’s surprisingly appetizing. This amaro, which is a bitter liqueur, infuses three different types of artichokes. Thus, Carciofo is in the name, as carciofo means artichoke in Italian. C3 Carciofo, based on a recipe from 1911, has similarities to a more famous artichoke amaro, Cynar (chee-nar), but I prefer Don Ciccio & Figli’s rendition. This artichoke liqueur has greater depth and complexity than Cynar.
The scent of C3 Carciofo has several notes. Initially, there is a hint of citrus peel. Subsequently, the aroma of freshly picked grapes comes to the fore. And at the end comes an herbaceous quality, indicating the mildly bitter flavor that awaits.
C3 Carciofo has a deep flavor profile. The flavor of the artichoke comes through immediately. It’s supported by a bitterness that reminds me of sharp grapefruit. Ultimately, there is enough sweetness as well to ensure the palate isn’t overwhelmed with artichoke and bitterness. The finish leaves the drinker intrigued for another sip to discover more of the subtleties.
C3 Carciofo has numerous uses, especially if you are looking to make a cocktail that introduces some vegetal sweetness. I have found some good uses pairing it with rum and bourbon, but I will keep experimenting.
THIRST AND HUNGER
Twist on a Classic: Aperol Spritz
An Aperol spritz, named for the type of amaro added to sparkling wine, is fabulously refreshing. The simplicity also makes it a nice go to cocktail as it usually just has sparkling wine, Aperol, and some chilled seltzer. I built off this basic template, but I added a touch of lemon juice and simple syrup to adjust for the more bitter and herbal C3 Carciofo without suppressing the unique elements it brings to the cocktail.
For the drink:
3 oz prosecco (LaMarca)
2 oz artichoke amaro (Don Ciccio and Figli C3 Carciofo)
1 oz chilled seltzer
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
For the garnish:
Add ice to a wine glass. Combine all of the drink ingredients in the glass and stir. Drop your olives and orange peel into the glass.
Something Original: The New Resident
This dink is a product of using The Flavor Bible cookbook. This book is a fantastic index of ingredients that recommends other ingredients to pair with them. Artichokes are the featured flavor of C3 Carciofo so I looked into ideal flavor combinations. I created a drink somewhat inspired by a daiquiri that would feature the C3 Carciofo.
For the drink:
1 ½ oz artichoke amaro (Don Ciccio & Figli C3 Cariofo)
½ oz dark rum (Myers)
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
5 chocolate mint leaves
For the garnish:
Chocolate Mint Sprig
Add the mint leaves and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Muddle for about 5 seconds. Combine the remaining drink ingredients in the shaker and fill about ¾ full of ice. Shake for 5-10 seconds. Double strain through a Hawthorne and fine mesh strainer into your coupe.
Eat Your Spirit: Carciofo Balsamic Glaze
Figuring out how to incorporate an artichoke flavored amaro into food took some time. Some of my usages of other alcohols lent themselves readily to desserts or other more common food types. While making Thanksgiving dinner the idea of a balsamic glaze came about while I made Brussels sprouts. This simple glaze would be good on other roasted vegetables including broccoli or asparagus, and it could be used on certain salads.
For the glaze:
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Don Ciccio & Figli C3 Carciofo
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the three ingredients and stir until combined. Bring to a simmer and slightly reduce the heat. Gently simmer for 10-12 minutes until the glaze coats the back of the spoon. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. It will thicken more off the heat.
My wife, Sarah, and I moved to the Washington D.C. area in April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to rage. We were so excited about moving, as we wanted to live in the area for several years and finally made it happen. One of the main reasons for our enthusiasm was the seemingly endless number of restaurants, breweries, and distilleries. Unfortunately, with the spread of the Coronavirus we faced serious limitations experiencing the culinary and drink scene. Since we could not go out every weekend, I tried to make up for this by making cocktails and looking for interesting liquors. When I told my Dad about my new hobby, he surprised me with a bottle of Don Ciccio & Figli C3 Carciofo. Upon realizing they were based in the District, my interest grew considerably as it gave me a chance to visit and support a local business.
Don Ciccio & Figli is a distillery located in northeast D.C. that opened in 2012 but has a much older tradition. The owner, Francesco Amadeo, has a family history steeped in liquor production dating to the 1800s on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Since they began production, they’ve upped their range of products to 15 different liquors and pre-made cocktails.
Don Ciccio & Figli’s distillery also has an outdoor patio, tasting room, and aperitivo bar where they provide free tastings of all 15 of their products. None of them disappointed and I had to fight the urge to purchase multiple bottles. Since I already had the C3 Cariofo, I settled on the Cerasum, a cherry and Sakura blossom aperitivo, which has become a staple in many of my cocktails.
Don Ciccio & Figli’s C3 Carciofo is a unique liquor that invites the creation of creative cocktails. I will keep experimenting with it and cannot wait to use more liquors from their ever-growing collection.