When it comes to taquerías, the only thing more dependable than the requisite plastic container of pico de gallo is the dispenser of horchata lurking just behind the counter. Since I’m usually eating my way through a two pound super burrito–that’s rice, beans, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and chorizo, for me–a gulp of cool, sweet horchata is exactly what I need to cut through the grease and cool the fire.
For those of you who don’t know, horchata is essentially a rice milk with the addition of sugar and cinnamon. There are about as many of variations of this sweet drink as there are taquerías in California, and they’re not all created equal. I find myself drawn to those versions that taste more custardy–a lot like melted ice cream–usually with the inclusion of vanilla and milk (whole, sweetened condensed, or evaporated). After purchasing an instant commercial mix at a local Mexican grocery store, which only left me with a pitcher of flavorless chalk water and a bad taste in my mouth, I set out to make a version modeled after one of my favorite taquerías. The result was everything I had hoped it would be: creamy, refreshing and just sweet enough. This stuff is great by itself, but even better when served with good Mexican, like tacos de cochinita pibil.