Horchata Is Hot

Creamy delicious horchata warms up winter menus at Fort Worth restaurants

Creamy horchata warms up winter menus at Fort Worth restaurants

Horchata usually comes with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Photo courtesy of MyVega.com

Fort Worth 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 one of those dispensers 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.

Here are some new and/or distinctive horchata drinks in town:

El Chico Cafe — Horchata Cocktails
Tex-Mex chain is celebrating the season with three new horchata cocktails available now for a limited time. The RumChata White Russian has RumChata, Don Q Coco Rum, and Monin Salted Caramel Syrup, dusted with cinnamon. Churro Encore has RumChata, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, and Monin Salted Caramel Syrup. RumChata Float has RumChata, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Kahlúa, and Coca-Cola, topped with whipped cream. They're all $7 and will be available through the end of the year.

Mesa — Horchata Cocktail
Mesa, the authentic Mexican restaurant from Oak Cliff with a grand spinoff in Grapevine, was probably the first to "upscale" horchata when it put this horchata cocktail on its menu for its opening in 2011. Some find the superb house-made horchata — laced with rum, coconut, and vanilla — too sweet for predinner, and prefer it as a postprandial treat. Horchata is a sweet drink, no doubt.

Mi Cocula — House-made Horchata
Nicely done Mexican located in a west Fort Worth shopping center has great, homey food and deft service from an eager staff. Their horchata comes from a classic recipe with a slight twist: It has not one, not two, but three milks, including condensed milk and almond milk, which lends the subtlest nutty undertone. With its extra-creamy texture, it's almost a dessert in itself. It's served in a tall glass, on ice, sprinkled with cinnamon, so that when it is carried through the dining room, diners go, "Ooohh."

Righteous Foods — Stump Chata
You can bet that if there's some fun, trendy stuff going on, you'll find it at Righteous Foods, the west Fort Worth restaurant from health-minded chef Lanny Lancarte. Their offering is the quintessence of hip: Called the Stump Chata, it's a horchata-styled coffee drink made with their cold brew rendition of Stumptown Coffee, the coffee snob favorite based in Portland, Oregon, which they doctor with almond milk, vanilla, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Salsa Limon — House Horchata
Small local chain whose mission is to serve "un-apologetically Mexico City-style tacos" also does an authentic horchata that they lovingly describe as "comfort in a glass." A generous glass it is, and the frothy beverage is poured over chunky nugget-style ice. They make it from condensed milk, coconut, rice water, and cinnamon, and have nicknamed it the "morechata" — because, they say, customers always want more. They're so into them, they even sell a "Morechata" T-shirt.

Starbucks — Horchata Almondmilk Frappuccino
Inspired by the popular Horchata beverage, which varies by culture and region, Starbucks Horchata Almondmilk Frappuccino blended beverage starts with almond milk, cinnamon dolce syrup, coffee, and ice blended together. It never being enough, Starbucks tops it with whipped cream, a swirl of caramel, and cinnamon and sugar sprinkles.

Rice Dream — Packaged Horchata
For one of the easiest horchata options, Rice Dream — the alternative milk brand from Imagine Foods/Hain Celestial — has a shelf-stable, traditional Horchata Rice Drink you can buy at places like Natural Grocer and Sprouts. Made from milled brown rice, cane syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla, it's creamy, quick, and refreshing.