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.
This really sounds like a fabulous cocktail Randy, and I can’t wait to try it. I can’t get Dolin Blanc here, but do you think another sweet white vermouth like Martini or Cinzano would work?
You cannot use sweet vermouth. This requires Blanc or Bianca. It’s a white, French style that isn’t dry. The recipe specifies Dolin. I haven’t used others. Substitute at your own peril!
“Here’s the thing with Blanc—it’s sweet.”
I don’t quite follw here. Dolin Blanc is sweet, but you say I can’t use sweet vermouth. Is it different grades of sweet you mean ?
Yeah, it’s confusing because usually when you say “sweet vermouth” you mean red, Italian vermouth. In this case it is a French style. Normally, French is referred to as white, dry vermouth. So I guess this falls in the middle. It’s definitely a French flavor profile but has sweetness where normally it would be dry. It’s just not “sweet vermouth” in the typical Italian style, and it’s not red.
Ok, I understand. I guess I will have to search out a bottle of Dolin Blanc. The downside with all these fortified wines like Cocci Americano, Carpano Antica and I presume the same goes for Dolin, is that you have to drink them up quickly, and not having a bar it might take a while for an average person who normally just makes drinks at home.
They will last longer if refrigerated, and I try to buy the smaller bottles whenever possible. French vermouth is usually pretty inexpensive which helps.
Martini & Rossi and Cinzano also distribute bianco vermouths in the US nowadays, which could be functional substitutes if one can’t get the Dolin.
The VH is my favorite bar in the world. Ever since I left Chicago I’ve been struggling to find a place where I feel so comfortable, or where the drinks are so damn good. Shout out to Patrick.
Thanks for adding this info. I knew there were others.
–>Paul, maybe these will be easier to find where you are?
We were in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and we hit up the Violet Hour twice. Andersen (my 8 year old) loved it and the waitresses took him in like a regular. This drink wasn’t on the menu but the barkeeper made one up. Fantastic. Between this and the Art of Choke, I’m definitely a bitter convert. There is definitely a lot of flavor synergy going on here as the result is not merely a sum of the parts. I wouldn’t say this is a gateway drink into bitters but definitely a nice destination if you are already inclined… Read more »
No, definitely not a gateway cocktail to potable bitters. Jim, are you a Negroni drinker? What about the Trident– or just click on the amaro tag on this post for other ideas. Once you start down the bitter path, forever will it dominate your destiny.
I like a Negroni. I’ve been threatening to purchase a cask and age out a batch for ages but never seem to get around to it. Maybe this year I’ll finally try it out.
I highly recommend barrel aging, and the Negroni is a popular choice. I need to replace the barrels I used, and I do think I will stick to the 1 liter size. It’s so simple to batch this size because it doesn’t take much inventory to fill the barrel, and after tasting the progress you end up with roughly a full bottle’s worth of aged cocktail. The small size contributes more oak over a shorter time. By the time you have had a few, shared a few, and you are finishing the bottle, your next batch is ready, keeping you… Read more »
One advantage of this and other cocktails that want blanc, not dry, vermouth is that you can use up that bottle of Lillet Blanc you bought thinking it would be the same as Kino Lillet.
We tried this drink yesterday when my parents were over for dinner, and it’s very good. Reminds me of Anthurium but the orange oils are really delicious and even if the Campari comes through the strongest you can also taste the vermouth and the Fernet. We compared Noilly Prat and Dolin and the first is much drier and rawer, while the Dolin is definitely sweeter, even if it might not be as sweet as an Italian Cinzano Bianco. Maybe it’s more like Cinzano Extra Dry. It would be interesting to see the sugar concentration of different vermouths, but I guess… Read more »
Paul, I couldn’t find a table of comparison, but there is an incredible amount of information on vermouth101.com that might be helpful. Highly recommended!