A Bitter Review: Chinotto Sparkling Beverage.

Via Rusty Ralston
on Mar 3, 2010
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She drives me wild—but she’s so bitter!

A couple months ago I was drifting by my local Italian corner store in Brooklyn, and it’s where I usually treat myself to one of my favorite non-local guilty pleasures—Aranciata. It’s an Italian soda made by San Pellegrino, and made of real orange juice and sparkling water. It’s quite refreshing.

Well, this time the Aranciata was missing, but in its place was a bottle of Chinotto. Oooooohhhh, what could this dark mystery drink be, I wondered. I’m a person who  has recently come to love bitter beverages. And over the past couple years I have fallen in love with a spirit called Cynar. It’s an alcoholic beverage, a bitter, that is made in the old school style with many different types of infused/macerated herbs as well as some vegetables, including artichokes. It’s delightfully bitter, and perfectly adapts to cocktails like the Little Italy (recipe here). If you’ve ever tasted Campari, it’s in the same family but without the artificial looking color.

Anyway, when I saw the Chinotto bottle with its dark complexion, it immediately made me wonder if this beverage could possibly be a wonderfully bitter soda version of Cynar?

Well, I tasted the stuff and immediately lifted my bottle high for a toast. I was right! It’s a beautiful beverage, not overwhelmed by sweetness, but instead balanced and quite robust and flavorful. The bitterness sits on your tongue and just begs for another drink. You need to try this stuff!

So, here’s my recommendation in mindful tasting of Chinotto. When you taste this stuff, I want you to be present. I want you to feel the flavors dancing on your tongue. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Buy a six-pack.

2. Slowly Drink 1 Chinotto on the rocks.

3. You will probably make a grimace and a ehhk face.

4. Relax. Ponder the Chinotto experience. Embrace the bittersweetness. Think about how foreign this stuff is, about how this taste is from a fruit that looks like an orange, but is way more complex, and very specific to Italy.

5. Finish your drink. Wait one day, try another bottle.

6. Repeat every other day, until you have acquired the taste for Chinotto.

Now listen, the first bottle may not yield a celebration, but once you adapt to the unique flavor of the this drink, you will savor it like a fine wine. It’s great with a variety of foods—and try it as a digestif after your meal. And it’s all-natural—not filled with weird American soda ingredients you can’t pronounce.

And if that’s not enough, just buy some local gin (maybe Roundhouse if in CO, or Junipero in CA) and mix yourself up a little cocktail!

Photo by Rusty Ralston


About Rusty Ralston

Rusty Ralston is a professional photographer specializing in music, fashion, lifestyle, and travel photography. He is available for shoots anywhere, preferably sunny islands.


7 Responses to “A Bitter Review: Chinotto Sparkling Beverage.”

  1. amanda says:

    Yeah. san pellegrino's 'sparkling chinotto citrus FLAVOURED sparkling beverage' has never seen any actual fruit. Take a look at the ingredients, it's sugar and chemicals with a miserly drop of 'chinotto extract'. It's everything that people who buy san pellegrino are trying to avoid in the first place.

  2. Jason says:

    Chino, discovered by accident and now i'm hooked. It's so nice and bitter, not like the modern mainstream drinks you get that are quite frankly, vile..

  3. Marianna says:

    Try also a Cedrata Tassoni. I believe you'll like it

  4. Karen says:

    I must say this may be one of the most horrific drink experiences of my entire life and I can drink straight vodka without a grimace. If this product contained alcohol I would perhaps ENDURE it however it is a soft drink beverage which reminds one of coke with added paint stripper. The ingredient list is not all natural and so one would wonder why on earth this drink has been created other than to torture the mouths of those curious enough to try a mew flavour of drink. Myself and my friend were still trying to recover from the dry heave 5-10 minutes later.

  5. Noel says:

    Chinotto is wonderful, I agree. You've had the SP version. But there are other versions. Malta produces Kinnie for example, also very good. However, the best in my opinion is by a brand a company in Sicily. I can't think of the name right now.

  6. Noel says:

    Just remembered, Polar is the name. Since 1953

  7. pm says:

    Chinotto San Pellegrino is not entirely natural…to drink real chinotto you got to taste Lurisia, Neri, Abbondio, Polara and Tomarchio brands from Italy.