So many countries with hotter climes than us make fantastic non alcoholic drinks like ginger beer or mango lassi. My favourite though is the Mexican classic horchata. Made with almond and rice milk and spiced with cinnamon and vanilla, this is better than a cold shower or an ice lolly. I first had it at Casa Morita but it seems to have disappeared from the menu, so here’s a homemade version! (This differs from the Spanish version made from chufa or tiger nut in the same way South and Central American Spanish varies from that spoken in Europe.)
Horchata (makes approx 1 litre)
- 200g brown rice
- 100g blanched whole almonds (available from Brixton Wholefoods)
- 500ml hot water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- grating of nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ice cubes
- 500ml chilled water
- sprinkle of cinnamon to serve (optional)
You will need a blender in order to make this, but it’s very easy.
Put the rice and the almonds in a big jar and add the nutmeg and cinnamon. Cover with 500ml of hot water. Allow to cool down and then chill overnight or for a full 24 hours. This will plump the rice and infuse the water with flavour.
If you have a large blender, tip the rice, almonds and water into it along with the sugar and blend until as smooth as you can get it. I only have a hand blender so I poured it into a big saucepan and blended it that way. Get it almost creamy in texture and then pour into a sieve lined with a muslin cloth. (I buy packs of them from the baby section.)
Allow it to drip through the cloth, leaving behind a grainy paste. When it has stopped dripping, twist the muslin round the paste and squeeze. You’ll be amazed how much liquid comes out. Once it’s bone dry, add the vanilla extract to the horchata you’ve made and store it in the fridge in the jar you soaked it in.
When you’re ready to drink it, add some ice to a glass and half fill it with the horchata and top up with chilled water. Sprinkle with cinnamon. The flavour is very intense and it needs diluting slightly. You can also make a great iced coffee by shaking a dessertspoon of instant coffee in a jam jar with a dash of water and then adding to the horchata and topping up with water. I kept the almond and rice paste and am going to try this simple no churn ice cream with it.
The cooling ideas with this delicious dairy free drink are endless. I like to add a cocktail umbrella as well. I think all drinks are better with them…