In Puerto Rico, horchata is sometimes made with sesame seeds. In Mexico, some variations on horchata use ground nuts. You can find these variants of the cooling, refreshing drink at Latin-American restaurants in the city, but recently, classic horchata has gained some competition. Introducing horchata Chicago-style, whereby the drink is transformed into all kinds of iterations. At Late Bar, owner Kristine Hengl—a horchata obsessive—has taken the drink and turned it into a martini (pictured) using brandy, cinnamon, Goldschläger and either soy milk or cream. (Embarrassed to order a martini? Don’t be. “You can order a martini here and not get eyes rolled at you,” Hengl says). At Blackbird this winter, pastry chef Patrick Fahy consulted with Justin Large, Big Star’s chef de cuisine, before setting out to make a horchata ice cream, served alongside a gingerbread-chocolate mousse–butternut squash dessert. And at Longman & Eagle, Derek Alexander made horchata from scratch and combined it with Sailor Jerry rum for a brunch cocktail. It hasn’t quite reached the broad appeal of the Bloody Mary, but people are feeling it. “It’s a creeper,” Alexander warns. Of course it is. This is horchata Chicago-style—what else would you expect?
Late Bar 3534 W Belmont Ave, 773-267-5283
Blackbird 619 W Randolph St, 312-715-0708
Longman & Eagle 2657 N Kedzie Ave, 773-276-7110