Good Eats

Make this Now: Bayou Horchata

By Jed PortmanDecember 23, 2014

Tis the season for milky refreshments of all sorts, from creamy eggnog to clarified milk punch. For Bobby Heugel, co-owner of the bar the Pastry War in Houston, it’s horchata season. Well, it’s always horchata season. Heugel deploys the pearlescent rice milk liberally at the Pastry War, a modern mezcaleria where aguas frescas and sal de gusano meet small-batch spirits on a menu of high-concept Texas Mexican cocktails.

But one of Heugel’s concoctions pairs especially well with winter festivities. His brown rice and pecan horchata, a natural match for aged spirits, is not only a richer version of the paper-white horchata ladled from glass in taquerias, but it also brings back childhood memories for the Richmond, Texas native. His family grew brown rice for generations, amid the pecan trees that pepper the Lone Star landscape with oblong fruits each fall.

Your blueprint for holiday party success is below, but if that cocktail looks too involved for you, try a simpler highball: a couple of ounces of liquor with a pour of horchata over the top. For this particular horchata, Heugel recommends a dark rum or an añejo tequila.

Bayou HorchataBayou Horchata
From Bobby Heugel, the Pastry War, Houston Texas
Photograph by Julie Soefer

1 ¼ cup sweet brown rice, uncooked
1 lb. pecans
1 cinnamon stick
8 cups hot water
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water

Pulse the rice in a food processor until finely ground. Combine all ingredients and allow the mixture to sit for 12 hours, covered. Pulse in a blender and strain with cheesecloth. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until sugar dissolves, and then add the syrup to the mixture a little bit at a time, tasting for sweetness.

Bayou Horchata Highball

1 oz. dark Jamaican rum
½ oz. allspice dram, homemade or store-bought
2 ½ oz. Bayou Horchata

Combine in a highball glass with ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.