When we first saw the ingredients for this cocktail at The Violet Hour in Chicago, we couldn't bring ourselves to order it. It seemed just too over-the-top with bitter ingredients. That was our first mistake. When the recipe appeared in Beta Cocktails, a book we recently mentioned in conjunction with the Art of Choke, we thought it might be time to check it out, but we never had the right combination of ingredients—most notably, we didn't have a Blanc vermouth. That was our second mistake. Today, we finally corrected both situations by picking up a bottle of Dolin Blanc and using it to construct one of the most interesting and surprising results we have tasted in a very long time.
Eeyore's Requiem is another recipe we have collected by Toby "Alchemist" Maloney, one of the modern masters of mixology. Maloney describes this as "advanced" cocktail making, and he's probably right. The unconventional combination of ingredients and proportions may seem like an attempt to mix every bitter flavor in the cabinet, but the result contradicts expectations which is probably why it was a perfect addition to the Beta Cocktails book. Sure, there is some bitterness to the flavor profile overall, but it doesn't dominate.
Eeyore's Requiem by Toby Maloney
1.5 oz Campari
1 oz Dolin Blanc vermouth
.5 oz gin
.25 oz Cynar
-.25 oz Fernet Branca
dash 50/50 orange bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish heavily with orange oil from three consecutive twists of orange peel.
Let's discuss the ingredients. First, let's hit all of the Italian bitters. These are potable bitters, not cocktail bitters. Starting with Campari, we have a heavy dose of bitter flavor. Yes, there is a fruity component to Campari, but for the uninitiated, the stuff can be somewhat bracing on the tongue. Before you turn away, recognize that by the time we are done adding everything together, this effect will be minimized. If Campari weren't enough, Cynar, an amaro based on artichokes, adds depth and character making it one of our favorite ingredients. Finally, a skinny quarter ounce of Fernet Branca rounds out the Italian components. Fernet is truly an acquired taste, and in most other recipes, even a scant portion can be enough to overpower the rest. Here, we can get away with it because of everything else in the mixing glass. Next, we include a half ounce of gin. Tanqueray is specified which gives the drink a nice boost. The gin you use may affect the flavor overall, but we had fantastic results using Bombay Dry. Add the gin, and then a full ounce of an ingredient we haven't covered here at Summit Sips. Blanc vermouth is a French variety that we have been ignoring for far too long. Here's the thing with Blanc—it's sweet. Of course, it's not a red, Italian style, but it's not exactly a dry formula either. Think of your typical French vermouth with a kiss of sweetness and you will get the idea. It's like the difference between a dry Chardonnay and a sweet Moscato, fortified with spirits and aromatized with herbs. Dolin Blanc is specified for good reason—it's absolutely delicious. Better yet, we found it in the wine aisle of our local grocery store!
Finally, add a few dashes of orange bitters. 50/50 is specified, which is New York slang for a mix of both Regan's Orange and Fees Brothers orange. Each have somewhat different flavors, so a mix is often beneficial to gain the benefits of both. We used Bittercube Orange with very good results. The garnish is somewhat unusual, as Maloney calls for the oily expression of three orange twists. This will add a swirly layer of orange oil to the surface of the drink that is both flavorful and aromatic. You can discard the last twist or go for a nice pigtail curl. Either way, don't skip the orange oil. It's a necessary component of the drink.
Not since we first tried the Paper Airplane cocktail, a presumably bitter concoction, has any drink taken us by so much surprise. Eeyore's Requiem in name alone suggests a very depressive or gloomy cocktail by nature, probably with respect to its bitter components and a nod to A. A. Milne's character. Yet, Christopher Robin's down-trodden friend is also a compassionate donkey, and this forgiving aspect of his demeanor may be the best fit for what you taste in the glass. Remarkably, the drink is both dry and sweet at the same time, and rather than pressing against your mouth with bitterness, it celebrates the fruity citrus and herbal complexity of the ingredients. We tried making this without the Dolin Blanc to confirm—it's definitely the vermouth that makes this complicated result a reality. Although this is an all-spirits drink, it's not as though it will knock you off your game, making it a perfect drink before a meal. Yet, because it is also somewhat sweet, perhaps it qualifies as a dessert. Difficult to make? No way. Advanced mixololgy? Probably. Delicious? Absolutely.