Add Your Favorite Booze To Horchata For A Sweet And Creamy Cocktail

Homemade horchata cocktails
Homemade horchata cocktails - Alexandra Harashchenko/Shutterstock

Over the past few years, horchata has appeared on the Starbucks menu, at Disney World Epcot, and in the Trader Joe's ice cream aisle. Now, that crave-able rice "milk" with a global fanbase belongs in another gastronomic place of honor: your home bar. If you've never tried it before, horchata is a Mexican rice drink flavored with cinnamon and cloves. The rice steeps in sugar and water, gets mixed with the spices, and then strained into a rich, sweet, creamy, dairy-free drink. Thick, fluffy Arroz de Morelos rice grown in Mexico is our favorite for making homemade horchata -- or, you can buy it pre-made in many Latin grocery shops.

All it takes to turn horchata into a cocktail is adding your favorite liquor. Vodka, whiskey, or bourbon would all get the job done (just stay away from gin), but the two best spirits for the job are reposado tequila and rum. White, gold, or spiced rum all work well here. With its dominant tasting notes of coconut, vanilla, citrus, and caramel, aged gold rum would lend rounded dimensionality to your creamy spiced rice drink. Or, opt for white rum to keep it sweet and simple and let the horchata flavor shine.

For a bolder, less dessert-like profile, ditch the rum and opt for vegetal tequila. Reposado tequila is oak-aged for two months up to a full year, intensifying that signature bright agave flavor with the woodiness for a depth that's more balanced than ultra-smoky añejo tequila.

Read more: The 40 Absolute Best Cocktails That Feature Only 2 Ingredients

Rum Or Reposado Is The Move For Horchata With A Kick

Glass of homemade horchata
Glass of homemade horchata - Sergio Hayashi/Shutterstock

To assemble, add your horchata and liquor of choice to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass or stemless wine glass over one large ice cube to serve, and garnish with a cinnamon stick. Regarding proportions, boozy horchata has a lot of wiggle room. How much liquor you add is really going to depend on your personal taste preference. If you're looking for a subtle, utilitarian boozy kick, start with 1 ounce liquor and 3 ounces horchata. Or, if you're trying to transition that creamy, mild beverage into cocktail territory, use 2 ounces liquor and 2 ounces horchata; the richness of the horchata can stand up to equal proportions.

If you're feeling ambitious, you could add other ingredients into your horchata cocktail as well. Steer clear of citrus elements like lime juice or orange, which can cause the non-clarified horchata to separate (not cute). But, this thick drink would be great diluted with fizzy, spiced ginger beer. Or, you could add in a flavored liqueur like Malibu rum, or take a cue from Joaquin Simo of the NYC-based, world-renowned cocktail giant Death & Co., who makes a boozy Smoked Horchata using a combination of reposado tequila and Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal ($32.99 via TotalWine). This Oaxa-made mezcal-based liqueur clocks in full-proof at a 40% ABV and boasts complex notes of agave, vanilla, pear, almond, coffee with a long, smoky orange finish.

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