One drink has been around for more than a thousand years. The other is a tween by comparison. When horchata and cold-brewed coffee finally converged, though, it seemed as if they were meant to find each other across time.
Blends of the two have popped up across the country in recent years, especially as cold-brewed coffee has arced upward in popularity. As of this week, Long Island has its own native horchata-cold-coffee hybrid: Sail Away Coffee Co., probably the most omnipresent local cold-brew brand, has launched a canned Nitro Horchata Cold Brew.
Horchata is a milky but dairyless drink that traces its roots back to northern Africa and, later, Spain, where it is made from ground tigernuts and called orxata de chufa. Over time, it’s picked up different spice profiles as it migrated to west Africa as well as Mexico, Central and South americas, where horchata is more commonly made from rice. Closer to home, you’ll often find it in taquerias as sweet, cinnamon-tinged rice milk over ice.
The Sail Away version eschews any kind of milk, dairy or rice or otherwise, relying instead on a nitrogen infusion to lend creaminess, vanilla and cinnamon to mimic the flavors of rice horchata, and raw cane sugar for sweetness.
The result is only subtly sweet, its spices a low thrum rather than in your face. “I wanted the coffee to still be at the forefront,” said Sail Away owner Christopher Vetter, who has worked on the flavor since last fall.
Vetter launched Sail Away in 2015, and the tap handles for its cold brew and nitro cold brew have sprouted everywhere from cafes to music venues; the canned line launched last year, and the products — brewed in Deer Park — are distributed throughout the island and in New York City.
Horchata cold brew is also fueling cross-genre collaboration: On April 6, South Shore Dive in West Sayville held a launch party by using it in a few cocktails, including the macho comacho: horchata cold brew, Gosling’s rum, orange liqueur, fresh coconut milk and Fernet-Branca. You can still land a glass during weekend brunch.
Sail Away Nitro Horchata Cold Brew Coffee can be found wherever Sail Away’s canned cold brews are sold, and costs $3.99 to $4.49 a can.