Hor-cha-cha-cha

5 Austin spots dreaming up delicious horchata drinks

5 Austin spots dreaming up delicious horchata drinks

Horchata
These five spots are doing interesting things with horchata, a concoction usually made of rice milk, almonds, sugar, and spices. Photo courtesy of MyVega.com

Austin has no shortage of horchata. If you've been to a Latin market or taqueria, you've seen this sweet milky beverage, usually chilled in honeycomb vitroleros on the counter, along with tamarind and hibiscus drinks.

Horchata is a popular drink in many Latin cultures and has a variety of recipes, but it generally contains rice milk, almonds, sugar, and spices. With the increasing number of people eschewing dairy products and the proliferation of "alternative" milks, horchata's profile is on the rise.

Horchata is not hard to make yourself. The worldwide web has oodles of recipes. You can even buy it in a powdered mix. But isn't there something luxurious about having a drink already made?

Traditionally, horchata is a non-alcoholic drink. But some restaurants are giving it a twist by making it the base for an exotic cocktail.

CultureMap did a roundup of Austin's best horchatas in 2012, which you can check out here. Meanwhile, we've found five different horchata drinks to spotlight.

El Chilito — Ojo Rojo
Long before mixing creamy agua fresca and coffee was the latest thing, the El Chile group's fast casual concept was serving this eye-opener all over town. House horchata is combined with shots of espresso for a coffee drink that's sweet enough to satisfy Starbuck's regulars but strong enough for those who usually drink their coffee black. Add one of El Chilito's hearty breakfast tacos and you have a perfect morning. 

El Tacorrido — Iced Horchata with Espresso
This South Austin taqueria combines authenticity with gourmet touches, all at a nice price. Here's a place where you can get traditional offerings like tripe and menudo along with vegetarian options, aguas frescas side by side with a menu of coffee and espresso drinks. Combine those two in the massively popular El Equinox: an iced horchata with a shot of espresso.

Eldorado Cafe — House-made Horchata
The new restaurant from Tacodeli's Joel Fried makes its own horchata from rice, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. It's great on its own, but possibly even better in an off-menu cocktail that drink that combines horchata, locally-made Chameleon Cold-Brew, and RumChata, the rum-based cream liqueur.

My Name Is Joe — Horchatte
The food and coffee trailer founded by chef Philip Speer to help folks in recovery has a trendy menu with key categories such as nitro brew coffee and an entire menu of latte drinks including a matcha latte and one made with trendy restorative turmeric. The cleverly-named "horchatte" combines one half horchata, which they make in-house, and one half cold-brew coffee — a righteous blend of creamy and stout.

Tamale House East — Mexican Iced Coffee
Even though we were thrilled when Tamale House East announced they would begin serving delicious Bloody Mary's and mimosas, we find ourselves returning over and over again to the Mexican Iced Coffee. Made with Chameleon Cold Brew, horchata and soy milk, this not-too-sweet concoction is perfectly paired with a migas taco (or four).