After a year of days running into each other, it seems like overkill to have this week of ice and snow. I already barely knew what month we were in and I awoke this morning to a grey, ashen sky over an endless sea of white to discover that it was Wednesday, and not just any Wednesday, but Ash Wednesday, which means I went right on through Mardi Gras without realizing it. To be fair, I should have known, mom had homemade King Cake at dinner Sunday, so I knew it was coming up, it just never really registered that it was upon us. I had planned to make a New Orleans classic, but that did not quite work out, so, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the Coco Bitter.

This was supposed to be one of those easy posts. Say a few words about Mardi Gras, make sure to not incriminate myself or anyone else, add a dash of bead based innuendo, slip in a New Orleans classic cocktail and move to the coda. Then I missed Mardi Gras entirely, which puts us on the back foot right from the start. No worries, just jump to the cocktail. We can make a Sazerac, nope we already did that on. How about a Vieux Carre or a Hurricane? Been there, done that. Ramos Gin Fizz? Check. At this point I have made and written about roughly 300 cocktails, so sometimes I forget them, but every time I thought I had a winner, I’d hit that search box and discover that I did that one months ago. I was about to toss the whole idea, when Fernet Branca’s social media page delivered this fun homage to the Cafe Du Monde and their wonderful Cafe au Lait.

Grab your tins and pop in 1 ounce of Fernet Branca, 1 1/2 ounces of rye whiskey, I opted for Corsair Ryemageddon as a tip of the hat to our current Snowmageddon and, more importantly, because its cocoa undertones ought to be wonderful in this drink. To that add 1/2 an ounce of coffee liqueur, I chose St. George NOLA, natch; 3/4 of an ounce of coconut milk and a barspoon of simple syrup. Toss in some artisanal ice cubes and shake to the beat of Donald Fagen’s “Snowbound“, my go to song for snow days, ever since college. When well mixed strain over crushed ice into a tulip glass and garnish with some coffee beans, maybe some leftover beads or one of those cool monster throws from Copperhead Studios. Pop in a paper straw and serve.

Yum! This one is awesome. It combines in a surprising way, the fernet and rye are right up front, but that coffee sneaks in to lay down a base note that cannot be ignored, I like this, a lot. It is a bit in your face at first, but with a little dilution it opens up into something wonderful, reminiscent enough of that milky coffee to make me want a bag of hot beignets. Seriously. I feel like I need beignets and Coco Bitter in my life, like now. I can bring the ice, we’ve got plenty.

It could be worse. We’ve got plenty of supplies, the pipes haven’t frozen and we have electricity, internet and each other. So much each other. I am pretty sure that my lovely bride has seen more of me this year than she really had planned on and certainly more this week. I think this is what Kahlil Gibran was talking about when he said, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”. Too much of a good thing and all that, I suppose. He went on to say “stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” I can only assume that he wrote this was after a long week snowed in with one of his many patrons or benefactors. Got to give the old fella a tip of the hat for making absence sound so loving. I just hope that we get a thaw soon and I can put some space in our togetherness before she puts me out in the snow to read Lebanese love poems on my own. Y’all stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.