After another sweat-drenched day of making hot laps on the interstate inside a fire engine with questionable cooling capability, a refreshing summer drink hits the spot. Yes, yes, yes, electrolyte charged drinks have their time and place but in 2017, we want more control over what we place into our bodies. And as I’ve always been partial towards Latin inspired cuisine, its no shock to see me gravitate towards the Mexican version of their classic rice based sweetened beverage called Horchata.


Horchata means different things to different parts of the world; it all depends on the cultural traditions (just like the fire service). Some use peanuts, cashews, almonds (as I do here), sesame seeds, tigernuts, etc. But no mater the regional ingredient, horchata has the basic tenants of water, grains/nuts, cinnamon and sugar all brought together in glass and ice.  It’s magic.


A few after the fire critiques: We’ve essentially made rice milk here but with an aggressively flavored slant, welcome to the world of homemade milks! Agave is used as the sweetener here but feel free to use any that you like. I’ve used honey in the past but some find it too strong. Many will also mix the horchata base and milk in a cocktail shaker before pouring into a glass and this works well but good luck finding that in the firehouse. Lastly, for your more pretentious guests (I’m raising my hand here), consider frothing some milk or cream to top the drink and a fresh grating of nutmeg for that little something extra.


Makes 2+ quarts




6 Cups Water

1 Cup Rice

½ Cup Almonds, slivered

1 Cinnamon Stick, broken up

2 Cups Milk

½ Cup Agave

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 tsp. salt

Cinnamon Powder to taste




Baking Sheet


Large Pitcher

Fine Mesh Sieve





Mix rice, almonds and cinnamon stick to combine than place evenly onto the baking sheet. Place in a 350°F oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly toasted. Add toasted mix with water into the blender and blend for 5 minutes. Pour into the pitcher, add vanilla and agave and stir to combine. Place horchata mix in fridge for 8 hours or over night.


When ready to drink, pour horchata mix through the fine mesh with cheesecloth into a glass filled with ice, fill it ⅔ of the way then add milk near the top. Mix with a spoon or straw and top with a dash of cinnamon. Indulge!