Matthew Kelly / Supercall

3 Ways to Boozify Your Horchata This Summer


Thick and creamy, yet dairy-free, horchata is a traditional Latin American beverage with Spanish roots. There are many myths and legends that surround the drink’s etymology—including one in which King James I of Aragon exclaimed in Valencian upon tasting it, "Açò no és llet, Açò és or, xata!" ("That's not milk, that’s gold, darling!"). Originally made with tigernuts, a root that grows primarily in Western Africa and Southern Spain, orxata, or horchata, spread throughout countries colonized by the Spanish—including Mexico, where a rice-based version found its most ardent fans.

With its cooling properties and milky texture, the drink is the perfect companion to spicy foods and warm weather. While horchata is traditionally served booze-free, we find that, like most things, the already delectable beverage is even better with alcohol. And, as it turns out, horchata is remarkably versatile when it comes to its spikeability. Rum plays up the cinnamon spice and lends its brown sugar sweetness, while tequila adds agave’s honeyed, vegetal flavor and white pepper heat, and mezcal gives horchata a smoky edge and brings out the earthiness of its rice base. If you want the perfect summer sipper, or are looking to quell the heat of a spicy feast, look no further than these boozified horachatas.

There’s more than one way to make horchata. In Spain, it’s made with tigernut, while Puerto Ricans use sesame seeds and Costa Ricans make it with jicaro seeds and nuts like cashews and almonds. Our recipe, though, was inspired by the classic Mexican preparation. All you need to make it is rice, agave syrup and water—there’s no fuss, no nuts and no dairy.

The Essentials

white rice
Cinnamon Sticks
agave nectar
As the name of this cocktail implies, this is a delectably easy way to boozify horchata. Just whip up a batch of the Mexican rice drink (or buy it, if you must) and pour in your favorite tequila (we love the deeply funky Riazul Añejo tequila from Jalisco). With a twist of the bar spoon and a dash of cinnamon on top, you’ll have yourself a refreshing, tequila-heavy treat. If only chiles rellenos were so easy.

The Essentials

Crushed ice or pebble ice
Supercall’s House Horchata
Created by mezcal company Gem & Bolt, this bright, fruity take on spiked horchata calls for their subtly smoky spirit, which is uniquely distilled with damiana, an ancient Mexican herb often used as an aphrodisiac and a holistic anti-depressant. China-China, a bitter, citrusy amaro made with cinchona bark, plays up the herbal notes in the mezcal, while muddled pineapple gives the drink a tropical edge. It’s perfect sipped on a sweltering day spent on a blazing beach or just in your backyard.

The Essentials

Gem & Bolt
Almond Horchata
China-China Amer
Made with horchata in place of cream and a touch of matcha powder, this refined take on a Grasshopper from New York City’s Villanelle is decadent, dairy-free and downright delicious. The tea not only lends the cocktail its gorgeous green hue, but its savory, herbal flavor also balances out the lightly sweet Branca Menta and rhum agricole. It’s like a liquid Andes chocolate.

The Essentials

Branca Menta

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