We have been talking about travel quite a bit lately, I guess it is true that when you can’t do something, talking about it is the next best thing. Unless you’ve got facetime, of course. The topic came around to New Orleans which was basically just a list of places where we wanted to go have a drink or appetizer or dessert or even a meal. We are strong believers in the moveable feast. Some of my very best meals ever, took place over 3-4 hours in 4-5 restaurants or bars, with lots of time to stroll the streets and laugh in between courses. New Orleans certainly lends itself to this sort of meandering celebration of decadence, with lots of incredible options and character to spare. After spending a bit of time salivating over meals and cocktails past, my father began to pine for a Milk Punch he had enjoyed at Arnaud’s and then he sent me a recipe. So, won’t you please join me as we stand and make, a Devilish Coffee Milk Punch.
The first thing we have to get out of the way is that this is not the recipe used by Arnaud’s, as I had assumed when he sent it to me. This one was actually created by Brittany Conerly from Beyond The Bayou and was featured in a recent issue of Garden & Gun, that storehouse of Southern wonderfulness. It is her riff on a classic milk punch adding some traditional flavors of the Crescent City, updated with a bitter aspect. This difference will be important later. Let’s make the drink and get into that in a moment.
Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of whole milk, 2 ounces of half & half, 1 ounce of that wonderfully herbal Amaro Montenegro, 1 ounce of rum, I chose Doctor Bird for the label more than the flavor profile, 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar and 2-3 stabs of El Guapo Pecan Chicory Bitters to get a NOLA native in the mix. The drink also calls for 1 1/2 ounces of cold brew, which would be awesome if made with Community Coffee and chicory, however, I used a shortcut and pulled a ristretto shot instead and let it chill. Seal your tins and give this a good dry shake, to the beat of “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company” by The Dead South, just to get those dairy elements well-emulsified. Go for a minute or so, or till the end of the first chorus, then add ice and go again. Really let it have it, a nice creamy well frothed mouthfeel is what we are looking for here. Strain over ice into a rocks glass and grate a little fresh nutmeg on top, as one does.
I think this is lovely. Coffee forward with a nice creamy mouthfeel, great interest from that Amaro Montenegro with those vanilla and orange undertones. Doctor Bird was a poor choice here, it has an astringent thing which I usually like, but it doesn’t work very well here. It’s playing a solo during the verse, just a little too extra, but damn that label is just so pretty. Still, this is a rock solid drink, might be fun to push the alcohol a little harder, but seriously, there is nothing in the world wrong with this excellent recipe.
I was feeling pretty good about things when I handed this immaculately crafted cocktail to my father. I figured that I’d get the good son gold star today for taking the time to lovingly hand-craft the cocktail he requested. Not only requested, but provided the recipe for, the powdered sugar and a rocks glass. He took a sip. I waited ready to bask in the glow of a job well done. “Nope, that’s not it. It should have bourbon in it.” he said as he passed it to my mother to have her confirm the wrongness of the drink. It was indeed the wrong drink. In my haste to make a drink that called for an unusual amaro that I happened to have a bottle of, I missed the subtext. Sending me the recipe was supposed to inspire me to track down the correct one and recreate their Arnaud’s experience, I see that now. The good news is I am a reasonably clever monkey and I already have that recipe on stand by so I may redeem myself at a Sunday dinner or holiday to be named later.
That’s how it goes some days, but it is all good. We discovered a fine drink, had a laugh and we now have an excuse to try another drink so we can compare and contrast the two, that sounds like a win. I’ve been tired and cranky today, basically because my body is punishing me for using it poorly yesterday, so I’ve had a shorter fuse than usual. Part of me wanted to rail that it’s hard to get it right when you start with bad info, or go on a rant about expectations and communication or something about how even when you get deeply into middle age, you are still a kid to the folks who wiped your butt and taught you to use a spoon, but that’s not what I am feeling. We had a nice afternoon and bonded over the wrong drink, there is nothing in the world wrong with that and we get to do it again with the right drink sometime soon, yeah, that is a win. So, maybe I am growing. Maybe not, the jury is still out. Besides I don’t want to get too understanding with my folks and lose that perpetually rebellious streak they’ve had to deal with for so long, that is kind of who we are now. It’s like Tennessee Williams said, “If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels, too.” I had to work that in cause it was in the article Dad sent me and we had a laugh about it, cause it’s true. We’ve all got those demons, might as well enjoy them, maybe over a drink sometime. Y’all stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.