Although a margarita is the typical celebratory drink for Cinco de Mayo in the US, a spirited Horchata is my favorite drink for this “Mexican” holiday that we seem to love so much in the US.  

Recipe for Horchata cocktail and Chile Lime Peanuts to celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Horchata with Cinnamon Vanilla Syrup as Sweetener

What is Horchata?

There are a number of variations for an “authentic” horchata, depending on whether you favor the Spanish version or one of the many Mexican versions.  Most of the recipes however, are quite sweet.  The recipe in this post is made without the sugar, so that you can create individual cocktails, adding your sweetener to the drink at the sweetness level you prefer.  

Horchata is a dreamy, creamy drink that is one of my favorites, and it works wonderfully as a base for a cocktail or a mocktail.

Common Ingredients in Horchata

Most research cites El Salvador as the origin of the Mexican version of Horchata, although the ingredients vary throughout Mexico and Spain.  In some countries the drink is tan in color and made with milk, some countries substitute moro seeds or jicaro seeds for the rice, and Spainish versions typically use tigernuts over almonds.  

Ingredients that are common to most recipes however, include sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  The recipe below includes the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in the form of a simple syrup added to a rice and almond horchata base.  I’ve used rum as the spirit, but brandy would make a nice cocktail also.  This one brings out the m-m-m from me each time I make it.

How to Make Horchata Base

For a good recipe to make the horchata base without the sugar click here

Cinco de Mayo Horchata Cocktail:

Combine all ingredients in a tall glass of ice. Stir and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a hot red pepper

Chili-Lime Spanish Peanut Appetizer:

Chile Lime Peanuts to pair with Horchata cocktail for Cinco de Mayo
Chile Lime Peanuts to pair with Horchata

The perfect foil for a rich, creamy Horchata cocktail is a bowl of light, somewhat spicy, spanish peanuts.  These are a cinch to make and pair well with the drink.  Recipe is from Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 or 3 large limes)
  • freshly grated zest of one lime
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups shelled unsalted peanuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250ºF. Whisk lime juice, lime zest, chili powder, salt, sugar, and cayenne pepper together in large bowl. Add peanuts and stir until evenly coated. Scrape nuts onto large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until nuts are fragrant, dry, and beginning to darken, about 30 minutes

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