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 Originally made with tigernuts, a root that grows primarily in Western Africa and Southern Spain, orxata, or horchata, spread throughout countries colonized by the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.