Horchata – No Tigers Were Harmed in the Making of this Drink

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When it comes to delicious, unique, and refreshing summer drinks, it’s hard to beat horchata. There are countless ways to make this, but my preferred method is easy, relatively quick, and doesn’t require any tigernuts, whatever those are.

Apparently, that’s what the original Spanish version contained, among other things, but we’re doing a Mexican-style horchata, which is done with rice and almonds. The result is something that sort of looks like milk, but is much lighter, and pairs perfectly with all your favorite summer foods. I know, summer’s almost over, but not here in San Francisco, where our hottest weather is just ahead.

Depending on your tastes, you can alter the amount of sugar, as well as the ratio between rice and almonds, but what you can’t alter is the need to strain this before serving. Unless you like gritty drinks, you’ll want to pass this through a very, very five sieve, multiple layers of cheesecloth, or both. I hear a plain white, cotton t-shirt also works nicely, but I’ve never tried.

As you saw, I tested a nut milk bag, which allowed a little too much sediment through for my tastes, but regardless, do not skip this step. It’s especially important if you’re not leaving the mixture to sit overnight, since the particles won’t have as long to soften. Other than that, there’s not much that can go wrong, and I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 quarts of Horchata:
1 cup long-grain white rice
1/4 cup raw almonds
1 cinnamon stick, or 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
7 cups cold fresh water (4 cups to blend rice, 3 cups added after)
ground cinnamon to garnish, optional

Note: Once blended, let sit overnight before straining, if possible. This way the water has plenty of time to leach out the goodness from the rice and almonds. The four-hour method does work, but you don't get quite the same flavor. Along the same lines, many horchata "experts" actually prefer to not blend immediately, but rather let the mixture sit overnight to soften, before blending the next day. If you like how this comes out, feel free to experiment, and test for yourself.

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