Horchata is a traditional Mexican beverage made with rice, vanilla, and cinnamon. Growing up so close to the U.S./Mexico border allowed me to familiarize myself with agua frescas at local taco shops, with horchata and jamaica being my favorite. Horchata is not that difficult to find in San Diego, and many taco shops have it as a fountain drink option. Of course, horchata made from scratch tastes infinitely better than the artificial flavoring from a fountain drink. I decided to try my hand at it after having some delicious horchata flavored shave ice in Hawaii last week.
5 cups water
1 cup uncooked white rice
1/3 cup sugar (This can be adjusted to taste. I don’t like my drinks too sweet.)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (optional)
1. Pulverize the rice in a coffee grinder or food processor. I had to do mine in several small batches in my coffee grinder because I do not have a food processor. Some recipes specify blending the rice and water in a blender, so you can try that if you like.
2. Combine the powdered rice and water in a pitcher. Throw in the cinnamon stick. Mix it up and let it sit for at least three hours, the longer the better. Stir it every once in a while.
3. Strain the rice particles from the liquid. The water should be very cloudy now. Keep the cinnamon stick in the liquid if you used one.
4. Stir in the vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon. If you’d prefer it to be a bit creamier, add the milk. The water must be stirred very well to ensure that the cinnamon doesn’t just clump together at the top. Chill and serve over ice!