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.