Sweeter and lighter than Champagne, prosecco makes an ideal candidate for summer cocktail mixing. When paired with a smooth single malt whisky, it's a match made in cocktail heaven. For my new favorite summer cocktail, I like to use Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, which is a single malt Japanese whisky made primarily of corn, and whatever prosecco I have on-hand.
The name of this whisky has nothing to do with coffee - rather, it's named for a type of still invented by Aneas Coffey, which is used to make this golden spirit. The Coffey Still is a type of continuous still that can pump out grain whisky without having to alternate batches. Due to it's more efficient and cheaper production cost, grain whisky has taken on a bit of a bad rap and instead often serves as the base for more popular blended whiskies throughout the world.
Leave it to the Japanese to vastly improve patent still distillation (a.k.a. Coffey Still) and make a mellow, smooth, and complex whisky layered with hints of caramel, vanilla, and an herbaceous, spicy note that brings some pop on the finish. Mixing it with prosecco's delicate fizz allows this beautifully refined Japanese whisky's character to emerge more clearly. A coating of honey at the bottom enhances Nikka Coffey Malt’s oaky, slightly honeyed character. Garnished with a bit of lemon zest, turns this drink into the perfect summer cocktail, but like potato chips, it's next to impossible to just have one - preferably near a body of water or nonchalantly kicked back on your porch with a good book in hand.
The Lakeside - Serves One
1 measure (1.5 oz) of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
1 tsp honey
4 oz prosecco
1. In a champagne flute or coupe, swirl and swish whisky and honey together until the honey is somewhat dissolved.
2. Top with prosecco.
3. Garnish with lemon zest.
There's nothing more ubiquitous and symbolic of the current millennial zeitgeist than avocado toast. In the U.S., avocado consumption has spiked more than 300% since 2000, growing from a West Coast treat to a straight-up national obsession. Growing up in a Chilean household, in California where avocados are abundant and available year-round, my family ate avocado toast before it became a signature brunch staple (slash "before it was cool"), either for breakfast or during 'once,' or Chilean tea time. Once - a tradition inherited from the British, who settled in Chile in the 1800s - consists of a light, cold snack anytime from mid- to late-afternoon. Once offerings can range from a simple cup of tea (with milk, of course) and some toast with butter, mashed avocado, jam, pâté, cheese, cold cuts, or the sweetly addictive 'manjar,' or milk caramel. Once is awesome because who doesn't love a midday snack in between lunch and dinner?
While the origins of once are much disputed, the theory I most like goes like this:
Back in the 1800s, Chilean salt mine workers, would take a small drink and snack break midday, but were prohibited from drinking alcohol by the British mine owners. The Chilean mine workers were like, "the hell with that, we're drinking anyway, in secret." To disguise their clandestine activities, the workers used the code word 'once,' meaning 'eleven' in Spanish which just so happens to be the same number of letters in the word for their preferred drink of choice, 'aguardiente,' or fire water. Sneaky.
Anyhow, back to the toast, which also serves as a perfect cure after a night of drinking too much fire water. This version adds a bit of spice, which Chileans don't typically like, but my Mexican genes crave. I'm currently obsessed with topping my toast with the Stud mix from Supply House Peppers which contains anaheim, cayenne, cherry, chili, cowhorn, ghost, habanero, and jalapeno peppers.
Spiced Avocado Toast - Serves Two
1 whole ripe avocado
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch course salt
1 pinch black pepper
2 slices of delicious crusty bread (Pictured: Grand Central Bakery's Piccolo Como loaf)
1 tbsp butter
Crushed red peppers or chili flakes to taste
1. In a medium size bowl, mash avocado, olive oil, salt, and black pepper together with a fork until a smooth, yet chunky consistency is reached.
2. Spread butter on sliced bread and toast both sides.
(Pro-Tip: Use a cast iron grill pan to achieve perfect grill marks on bread)
3. Top bread with avocado mash then sprinkle on crushed red pepper flakes.
(Pro-Tip: Grind pepper flakes in a mortar and pestle to further refine flakes for palatability and optimal flavor release)
4. Optional: Garnish with a bit of cilantro.