Mmmm horchata! [Pronounced “or-cha-ta”]. The recipe varies depending on the region of origin, but this is how I grew up seeing it made. It’s what is known as Aguas Frescas. Usually fruits, grains, or seeds blended with sugar and water to make a delicious beverage. I was raised on this stuff and I love it. It’s my special treat. Part of my culture. Liquid golden calories of joy.
This Mexican horchata is made with rice, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Almonds are also sometimes used, and since my husband likes “the body it gives the drink” I use them in this version. You can omit almonds and replace with rice if you want (my preferred way). If someone ever gives you horchata made with milk…they can’t be trusted.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 cups long grain white rice, uncooked (1/2 cup more if you omit the almonds)
1/2 cup blanched, skinless almonds (can be omitted and replaced with rice)
4 cups water; plus 4 cups
1 cup sugar, plus more to taste
2 cinnamon sticks; plus more to garnish
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grind rice and almonds in a blender or spice grinder until it makes a fine powder.
Blend the almond and rice powder with 3 cups of water until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Add cinnamon sticks and vanilla. Set aside, covered, for at least 8 hours.
Use a fine mesh seive or cover your strainer with a layer of good cheesecloth.
Add 1 cup of water to your mixture and strain into a large bowl. You want to strain as much grit out as possible. Discard the solids.
Add sugar. Stir thoroughly.
Pour into a pitcher. Stir in 4 cups of cold water, sweeten to taste, and add lots of ice. Garnish with grated cinnamon and cinnamon sticks.
You can spike it if you want. Rum, anejo tequila, or vodka adds a nice extra kick. Enjoy!