Horchata – a traditional Mexican beverage made with rice, milk, sweet cinnamon and fragrant vanilla – is the base for a delicious cocktail made with spiced rum. (Photo/Courtesy Brittany Finch)

Weekend Cocktail: Drunken horchata

Just when you think a classic drink like horchata can’t get any better, a happy accident makes you rethink time-honored tradition. And at Dos Perros restaurant in Durham, North Carolina, that’s exactly how the Drunken Horchata cocktail came to be as a fun fusion of a time-honored recipe with a trendy sensibility.

“At one point, I was completely obsessed with vanilla liqueur and was adding it to everything from green tea to margaritas,” says Brittany Finch, the bar manager at Dos Perros. “And when I added it to horchata – one of our restaurant’s most popular drinks – all I could think of was ‘this is how horchata should taste’!”

Horchata – a traditional Mexican agua fresca (a type of refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage popular in households and mercados alike, concocted in flavors ranging from tamarind and cantaloupe) is made from rice blended with water, milk, cinnamon and vanilla. Norah Ordoñez, who has worked at Dos Perros since it opened in 2009, can hardly keep up with the demand for horchata at the neighborhood hotspot, making it multiple gallons at a time several days a week.

“I learned how to make horchata as a little girl from my mother,” says Ordoñez, who also makes pineapple, jicama and hibiscus agua frescas for the restaurant. “And now, more people get to enjoy it than ever.”

Straight from Dos Perros – a restaurant where traditional Mexican classics are reinvented with a trendy twist – comes the Drunken Horchata, which over the years has become of the restaurant’s signature drinks. While we include Ordoñez’s original recipe here, she suggests adding a bit of sweetened condensed milk to taste for added extra-sweet, creamy flavor.

Drunken Horchata

1 1/4 oz Kraken Black Rum

1 oz Licor 43 (vanilla liqueur)

And house-made Horchata

Preparation: Fill a pint glass almost all the way up with ice and add the rum and vanilla liqueur. Top with horchata, stir and serve. Serves one.

Dos Perros house-made horchata

1 cup white, long grain rice

2 cups cold water

1 cinnamon stick

2 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup white granulated sugar (add more to taste)

Optional: sweetened, condensed milk

Preparation: Wash rice and in a large bowl, cover with water to soak. Add cinnamon stick and let the mixture soak overnight at room temperature. The next day, blend the rice-water mixture in a blender until smooth. Add water until the mixture has reached a milk-like consistency. Strain the contents into a large pitcher and stir in sugar, adding more to taste.

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