Long before the rise of branded alternative milks, there was horchata. While many people consider it a traditional Mexican drink (it’s often sold alongside other variations of agua fresca in neighborhood taquerias), horchata has its origins in Africa and Spain, where it’s typically made in horchaterias with tigernuts (aka chufa), which aren’t actually nuts but edible tubers that look a bit like wrinkled chickpeas. Throughout South America, horchata is prepared with rice and/or sesame seeds, melon seeds, peanuts, almonds or cashews.
For this homemade almond milk and rice horchata recipe, we roast the nuts for maximum toasted flavor (though you can skip this step if you prefer). Jasmine rice lends a hint of heady flavor to the drink, but any other long-grain white rice will work just as well. A powerful blender such as a Vitamix clears rice and nuts, resulting in the smoothest, creamiest horchata. If you have another type of blender, be prepared to strain out a lot more bits and get a lot less out of the finished drink. If you want it to remain dairy-free, use sugar to sweeten the horchata instead of condensed milk. Start with ½ cup and adjust from there to taste. For a real treat, add a splash of horchata to your morning coffee to give it a hint of sweet cinnamon and nutty flavor.