F&W's Horchata Milk Shake © Con Poulos
Horchata, the delicious Mexican drink of cinnamon-flecked rice milk is getting an adult makeover from bartenders across the country, making it the ideal cocktail for this Cinco de Mayo.
At Santa Monica’s new Tinga, owner Jerry Baker and mixologist Joel Black serve horchata with espresso and rum. Adding coffee is not uncommon in Mexico, according to Black: “They call it cochata.” At the restaurant, the cocktail begins with a big batch of long-grain white rice soaked with water for 20 minutes, then blended and left to infuse overnight with nutmeg and cinnamon. Next, it’s sweetened with sugar and condensed milk, which also adds a silky texture. The horchata is mixed with espresso (made with house-roasted beans) and vanilla-tinged Atlantico reserve aged rum, then poured into a frozen margarita machine that holds 75 to 80 servings. “Twenty minutes later it comes out like a Frappuccino that gets you drunk,” Black says. “It’s a beautiful cocktail.”
While Black likes horchata best with rum, he also recommends spiking the creamy drink with caramelly aged añejo tequila, bourbon or vodka (“You can use vodka in anything and everything,” he says). You can test his picks in F&W’s frosty horchata milk shake from the May issue, or sample the boozy horchatas at these bars.
El Quinto Pino, New York City
The Spanish-style frozen Horchata Milk Punch at Alex Raij’s Chelsea tapas restaurant replaces rice milk with tiger nut milk imported from Valencia, Spain, and spiked with Torres brandy, a nutty, Catalan brand. “It’s super-delicious and not excessively sweet,” says Raij.
Yxta, Los Angeles
If The Dude from The Big Lebowski celebrated Cinco de Mayo, he would do it with Yxta’s Mexican Russian: a mash-up of horchata and a White Russian. Bartenders pour Hangar One vodka, horchata and Kahlúa over ice in a rocks glass, then garnish it with ground cinnamon.
Salvation Taco, New York City
April Bloomfield’s deliciously inauthentic Mexican restaurant offers the tropical 5 Island Horchata. Made with coconut milk, cinnamon-vanilla bean syrup and cold-brewed espresso, the Dominican-style drink is doused with both Banks 5 Island rum and Fernet-Vallet (an herbal Mexican liqueur). The creamy cocktail is served over crushed ice in a ceramic tiki parrot cup, garnished with sprig of mint.
Dos Perros, Durham, NC
Like Tinga, Dos Perros gives its house-made horchata a rum kick (strong, spiced Kraken black rum). The modern Mexican restaurant also adds Licor 43, an herbaceous vanilla liqueur from Spain. The cocktail is shaken and served in a pint glass filled with ice.