Last week, we had a drink that highlighted the bittersweet pleasures of Campari, a sometimes divisive liqueur that is nevertheless a classic cocktail essential. This Oscar weekend, we’re quite literally doubling down on the Campari and maybe tripling down on the bombast with a bunch of other harshly bitter and gently sweet ingredients for one of the best new cocktails I’ve had in awhile. It just might be the perfect two-pronged taste to savor as you enjoy the Oscars while, of course, complaining about the Oscars.
Eeyore’s Requiem is presumably named after A.A Milne’s depressive donkey who cut through some of the sweetness generated by the rest of the gang at Pooh Corner. It can be found on the menu of the Chicago craft bar, the Violet Hour, which stresses the classic beverages of the pre-Prohibition era. Created by Toby Maloney apparently circa 2011, this is a drink that is iconoclastic enough to set a new standard. I wouldn’t call it the “Citizen Kane” of cocktails, but it definitely turns cocktail convention on its head, with Campari taking the place of a base spirit and then relegating the hard stuff to a supporting role. It’s not your usual cocktail.
1 1/2 ounces Campari
1 ounce bianco vermouth
1/2 ounce dry gin
1/4 ounce Cynar
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
1-2 dashes orange bitters
1-3 orange twists (not necessarily a garnish)
Combine the liquid ingredients in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker and stir — or shake, if you must. (I say stir this one.) Strain into a good sized cocktail class and add your orange peels, or not. Some recipes say you should just twist the peels over the drink to express the oils into the drink and discard them. Some say to leave one of the orange peels in the drink. I say it probably doesn’t much matter that much. I’m not even all that sure you really need the orange peels at all, to be honest.
Most of the ingredients here are pretty much set for you in terms of brands, with the exception of the gin and the bianco vermouth. I used both Bomday Dry and Bulldog Gin, both of which were fine; I can’t say either did much to change the character of the drink one way or the other. There was a more pronounced difference with the vermouths. The original recipe calls for Dolin Bianco, which gave the drink a bit of an edge. However, I was slightly more partial to the amazing Cinzano 1757 I had on hand since last week.
Yes, this is a drink of many ingredients that might strain most modest home bars. However, I have to say that every ingredient in this drink is one worth having around and, when they all come together, it’s a beautiful thing.
Eeyore’s Requiem is a knockout of a drink. Indeed, if you do it just right — and this only happens when one stirs and doesn’t shake — the bitter and sweet flavors of the many liqueurs alternate in the mouth in an unusually delicious way. It’s something that even a depressive can feel good about.