It’s been a “bit of a day” as Lin Manuel would say. I spent my morning revisiting a time in life several years ago that I would prefer to leave in the rearview mirror. I don’t want to forget, it was definitely a learning experience. It was also a tough time and expensive lesson about trusting your gut and being careful who you put your faith in, despite what the “pro’s” are telling you. Mark Twain was right about good judgement coming from experience which usually comes from bad judgement. Going back over all that brought up the bitterness and resentment I figured was behind me. Still it’s a gorgeous day outside and I’m not gonna let it keep me down. So in the spirit of keeping the bitter stuff out of your life and in your glass, won’t you please join me as we stand and make Eeyore’s Requiem.
I have had this one sitting on the back burner for quite a while. When I first discovered it in “Amaro“, Brad Thomas Parsons excellent introduction to the world of bitter liqueurs, it intrigued me. It has the feel of one of those bartender’s handshake drinks, which I tend to say about most anything with Fernet-Branca in it, but this one also calls for Campari or a suitable sub, and when I see those two, I just assume that a couple of bearded dudes with awesome tattoo sleeves created it in order to mess with people. This one was actually created at Chicago’s The Violet Hour, by Toby Malone. A gentleman of great talent with a serious beard and tattoos, who also created the wonderful “Neptune’s Wrath” among many others, I assume. Seriously, everything I have had from this bar is amazing.
Grab your mixing pitcher and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of red bitter apÃ©rtif, most folks do Campari, but I subbed in some of that new Cappelletti that I bought for the Bananakin Skywalker; 1 ounce of French blanc vermouth, I used Noilly Prat; 1/2 an ounce of gin, I chose Corsair American Gin; 1/4 ounce of that lovely artichoke based Cynar, 1/4 ounce of Fernet-Branca and 2 stabs of Regan’s Orange Bitters. Add ice and give that a good stir to the beat of Gary Clark Jr.’s “When My Train Pulls In” for no reason other than it came on while I was driving home with the sunroof open and the windows down. Between the sun on my skin and his music, I was able to just relax and not worry about life, well, for 7 minutes and 48 seconds, anyway. You don’t have that kind of time though, after 30 seconds or so strain into a coupe and express not one, not two, but three orange peels over the drink. Toss two in the compost pile and garnish with the third, after you carve it into a makeshift donkey tail, of course. You can pin it on with a clove, if that makes you feel better.
I am not gonna lie, I kind of love this drink. Sure, there is a lot of bitter going on in there, but at some point you sort of transcend that. There is a lot going on in this drink, several flavors pushing for dominance, luckily nothing seems to get enough of an upper hand to drown out the others. I feel like the Campari might be too much, at least for me, so I am glad I made the suggested sub. It is interesting how the different flavors seem to dance around in each sip. It is like they are actively fighting in each mouthful to see which can get your attention first and hold it longest. This is not a bad thing. Not at all.
When I first discovered this drink, I figured it would be a good chance to talk about taking the bitter with the sweet and finding a way to live with your bad days, as Eeyore would. It made sense to talk about our collective mental health in these unprecedented times and to remind everyone, including myself, that it is ok to ask for help or to just take a day to think and not leave your stick house in the 100 Acre Wood, no matter who promises hunny. I could have probably found some profound things to say about that and the dangers of chasing those imaginary hunny pots that you know are too good to be true, anyway. Then I could have signed off with a heartfelt, “Thanks, for noticing me” and made my way to the exit. That would have been cool. So, if that is a message you need to hear today, fill in the blanks yourself and tell folks I said it. Hell, sign my name to the bottom and file it with management. Me, I’m gonna go for a walk in the sun with my son and think about better days. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.