How to Make Leo Robitschek's 'Fig and Thistle' at Home


[Photo: Lizz Schumer]

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We're not sure what kind of Christmas fruit cake Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park and NoMad modeled his 'Fig and Thistle' after, but it's not the icon that's been regifted from the beginning of time, we're pretty sure. Or if it is, we'd like to get our names on that gift list. This cocktail is zesty, a little spicy and, for those cocktail parties that just beg for a conversation starter, includes Cardamaro, an amaro with an interesting history and an even more talk-provoking flavor.

Fig and Thistle starts out with blanco tequila to give it what Robitschek referred to as "a nice, earthy backbone." While the tequila does have that lingering, smoke-on-the-water taste, it's the Cardamaro that really stands out in this drink.

The "thistle" comes from that bottling, an amaro that's made by infusing wine with cardoon (or artichoke thistle) and Blessed Thistle, which is known for its medicinal properties (some say it cures indigestion, fever, and the common cold, as well as aiding breast milk production. Anyway...) These two powerhouses are blended with a host of other botanicals to make an amaro that was first used by Pliny, Charlemagne, and others as a health tonic and now, Robitschek and company, for "the spice and bitterness" we've all grown to know and love about the amaro family. Add in a healthy splash of lemon and the drink beats a hot toddy for health benefits, or you can certainly tell yourself that when mixing up a second round.

The cocktail is rounded off by rich fig preserves, and the final result is at once bright and sunny, a little spicy and rich. If this a fruitcake, it's the kind with extra lemon zest, hold the gumdrop-colored fruit pieces.

About the Author: Lizz Schumer is the author of Buffalo Steel and the editor of The Springville Journal, located near Buffalo, N.Y. She can be found at or followed @eschumer.