MIA HEAD BARTENDER Pablo Prufer charmed judges at the 2021 World Class Bartender competition by infusing a bit of magic into this drink. The assignment: invent an evocative cocktail with Scotch whisky as its base. Prufer drew on Scotland itself — both its natural and supernatural history — to create the Eilean (the Gaelic word for “island”).
Prufer uses sous vide cooking to combine whisky with Roquefort cheese.
The Eilean starts with Johnnie Walker Black. In a unique twist, Prufer uses sous vide cooking to combine whisky with Roquefort cheese. Roquefort, though French, is a reminder of the Isle of Mull, famous for its unpasteurized, blue-veined cheeses. This may be the drink’s most surprising ingredient. After Prufer slowly infuses the whisky and Roquefort, he clarifies the result. This leaves behind pleasant creaminess while the whisky remains clear and bright. “It may seem very strong, but on the palette it is very soft and delicate,” Prufer says. “It's very fresh as well.” Local honey and late-season wine provide sweetness but no additional alcohol.
Prufer’s biggest source of inspiration came from his research on Scottish mythology. He was particularly fascinated by druids and witches and used them to create a fictional backstory for the Eilean, one where these magicians hide in plain sight as bartenders. “It was a very mythical into-the-forest sort of theme. It was like I was making a potion from what I would find in the forest on my island,” he says. Thankfully, sous vide as a method is a bit more precise than employing a simmering cauldron.
The Scotch-based Eilean is a change of pace for the bartender — most of his cocktails use local, seasonal ingredients. “We change the cocktail menu every three months, since here in Chile the climate changes every three to four months,” he says. “We also work with native products and the local market.” Prufer, who studied international gastronomy, practices his alchemy at Mia, located in a fashionable neighborhood about 20 minutes from downtown Santiago. During the pandemic, Mia was an outlet for him. “Instead of being locked down all day at home, I would just escape [for] a few hours, come to the bar on my own, and use the techniques when nobody was here,” he says.
You’ll need a few hours to replicate Prufer’s Eilean, as its ingredients are first vacuum-sealed, then immersed, clarified, reduced, and distilled. But you’ll surely get something special for all your toil and trouble.
- 100 g Roquefort cheese
- 375 cc Johnnie Walker Black Label
- 300 cc late-harvest wine
- 300 cc honey
- 100 g dark chocolate bonbon
- 50 g nori seaweed
- Sous vide whisky and cheese at 60 degrees F for 3–8 hours.
- Toast nori seaweed at 150 degrees F for 6 hours.
- Combine honey and wine in an uncovered saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Continue until the mixture reduces to a syrup. Remove from heat.
- Strain the whisky and cheese, leaving only the clarified whisky.
- Combine clarified whisky and wine/honey reduction in an old-fashioned glass. Add ice.
- Crumble the toasted nori, then roll the chocolate bonbon in seaweed until coated.
- Top cocktail with bonbon, balancing the bonbon on ice.
Jessica Suarez Writer
Jessica Suarez is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Grant Cornett Photographer
Grant Cornett is a photographer and director based in Upstate New York. He likes to take pictures of pristine detritus and austere moments.