Horchata as made in Mexico and Southern California (and elsewhere) is a super-refreshing rice-based drink with cinnamon and sugar. It is my favorite thing to have with street tacos or, indeed, any spicy Mexican food.
Like most good things nowadays, there is a real version and a fake version. I ran across an example of the latter at a local convenience store recently, embedded in the soft drink dispensers, which prompted the idea of learning how to make it myself.
After doing a bit of googling, I narrowed onto a 5 Ways to Make Horchata page which I decided to start with. The simplest version (#1 there) is where I began today — well, last night, which is when I put:
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
- 2 1/2 cups hot water
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks*
into my blender pitcher and left it to sit overnight.
* The recipe calls for one stick of 3″ length, but since mine weren’t quite that long, I eyeballed the picture to get approximately the same amount of cinnamon.
This morning, I simply added:
and blended the contents until they were nicely smooth and aerated.
There will be quite a bit of gritty residue in the liquid, which is why you’ll strain it through a sieve or cheesecloth — or a combo like I did:
Once that was done, I stirred in:
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Then poured it into a quart jar to put in the fridge for chilling and flavor-melding.
There was a cup or so left over, so I went ahead and made up a glass with ice and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon on top. As usual, the bendy straw — one of the highest pinnacles of Western Civilization — adds nothing but greatness to the lowliest of beverages.
The test drink was quite tasty for a first go. And the second drink later, after it had had a chance to meld, was noticeably better — deliciously refreshing on a hot day.
Next time with this version, I’ll likely want to up the sugar a smidgen and do a better job of straining — however, a little grit is a part of the horchata mouthfeel and charm. And since it is so very easy to make, it would be a cinch to serve alongside your homemade tacos as well.