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Horchata ‘Ritas

Horchata-ritas! Celebrate Cinco de Mayo  with Mezcal-spiked Horchata

It’s almost May which means warmer weather (hopefully), longer days, me maybe not resembling Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Cinco de Mayo! Before getting too excited though I thought I would pass along some history on this Mexican holiday (which I looked up upon realizing I had no idea what it even celebrates).

Here are some quick facts:

  1. On May 5th, 1862 Mexican militia defeated an invading French army at The Battle Of Puebla. Despite only temporarily keeping Napoleon at bay, this battle was a David v Goliath sort of situation and was a big morale boost to the Mexican people.

  2. Many people think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day but they are wrong. That would be Sept 16th.

  3. Before our Congress became useless they issued a resolution in 2005 officially recognizing the day’s historical significance and “calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities”.  So yeah. There is that.

I think Americans embrace Cinco de Mayo so enthusiastically because it is a holiday with no strings attached. There is no precedent of family gathering (and subsequent family arguing) or religious ceremony. And since most people have no idea what the heck they are actually celebrating, it is really just an excuse to indulge in food and drink while enjoying the warm weather. So on that note, lets do our congressionally-issued duty and drink to the battle of Puebla!

Horchata Rita Ingredients

I don’t know where horchata has been all my life but am pretty happy to have finally discovered it on my recent trip to SF. For those on the west coast it is a part of everyday life but it has miraculously never made the journey east. I feel as though I have been accepted (or at least had a glimpse) into a super secret club with a some conspiracy to keep this delectable drink from the clutches of the east coast hipster brunch crowd…cuz you know it will be like Brooklyn invented it.

Horchata-ritas! Celebrate Cinco de Mayo  with Mezcal-spiked Horchata

I chose mezcal for its smoky depth of flavor which complements the horchata very nicely. I may or may not have gotten into the hubs’ stash while he was away for work. Oops!! It was totally worth it. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Horchata 'Ritas

Yield: about 6 cups before alcohol is added (serves 12-16)


  1. 1 cup rice (uncooked)

  2. 2 cups blanched slivered almonds, lightly toasted

  3. 2 limes, zest and juice

  4. 2 cinnamon sticks

  5. ¼ cup agave (honey or sugar can be used as well)

  6. 2 tsp vanilla extract

  7. ¼ tsp kosher salt

  8. 2 cups unsweetened almond milk

  9. ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting

  10. mezcal*

  11. limes for garnish


  1. Combine rice, almonds, lime zest and juice, cinnamon sticks, agave, vanilla and salt in a large bowl.

  2. Heat 4 cups of water to a boil and pour over other ingredients. Let cool, stirring occasionally, and put into the fridge to steep overnight.

  3. Strain mixture using a cheesecloth set in a colander or fine mesh sieve. Use a spatula to press liquid through first then squeeze cheesecloth to get every last drop.

  4. Whisk in almond milk and ground cinnamon.

  5. Mix mezcal directly into Horchata or pour into each glass.

  6. Serve over lots of ice, a dusting of cinnamon and a lime wedge.


*Mezcal: the amount here is really a matter of taste and can be added to the whole mix for easy pouring or added to individual glasses. You can absolutely use tequila but I really recommend mezcal as it adds a wonderful smokiness. !I would probably start with 1.5 fl oz (or 1 shot) of mezcal per drink


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