To get things started, let’s first debunk the most common myth about horchata. Contrary to popular belief, this drink wasn’t invented in Mexico!
Other things you should probably know up front is that you’re supposed to drop the ‘h’ and pronounce it as or-cha-ta; and that while it looks all milky and creamy, it actually has no dairy in it!
If your interest has been piqued, you can read on to find out more about this delicious drink and where you can help yourself to a glass in the Philippines!
Horchata: The popular Mexican drink that the Spaniards invented
Yup, the Spaniards get the credit for this one! They invented the original drink which they named horchata de chufa, the main ingredient being chufa nuts.
Just a little background story on chufa nuts–they were first cultivated in Egypt and Mesopotamia and were used by ancient Arabs and Persians as medicine. The Arab traders then brought this highly valued nut to Valencia where the locals decided to make a drink out of it. It’s still a popular beverage in Spain to this day, though very different from the Mexican horchata that we’re familiar with.
The Spaniards then brought their horchata de chufa to Mexico but the Mexicans dropped the de chufa part and used rice as the main ingredient instead. They ground the rice, soaked it in water, added cinnamon and sugar for flavor, and served it over ice to make it extra refreshing.
It has since then become extremely popular and is now served in almost all restaurants and street stalls in Mexico. The Mexican horchata has even found its way to other countries, including the Philippines! That said, many modifications have since been made to the authentic version, with people adding all sorts of things to it like almonds, milk, coffee, and alcohol.
Five places to get horchata in the Philippines
1. Ambivert Coffee
As the name implies, Ambivert Coffee is for both introverts and extroverts alike. You can hang here on your own and get lost in a book, or you could come with a group of friends and talk the afternoon away.
But no matter which end of the personality spectrum you fall under, you have to try out their bestselling drink–the Horchata! It’s made with rice and almond milk but you also have the option to add espresso to it for an additional ₱40 or rum for ₱60. But if you really want to surprise your senses, order the Wake Up Jerry! This coffee cocktail has horchata as its base and is spiked with espresso and Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum.
Ambivert Coffee can be found at 4900 Durban St., Poblacion, Makati, Metro Manila.
2. El Chupacabra
Fondly called El Chups, this restaurant is a favorite Friday night hangout spot among the corporate employees of Makati. You’ll often spot TV personalities blowing off steam here too. What keeps customers coming back? It’s the laid-back vibe, the delicious tacos, and the refreshing horchata!
They’ve kept their version of the drink pretty simple, not straying too far from the authentic recipe. There’s still some graininess to it from the ground rice, treating the taste buds to quite an interesting experience. “It’s so familiar and unique at the same time, which is why I liked it the first time I tried it. It’s like milk tea but…different,” said Angeli A. in her looloo review.
El Chupacabra can be found on the G/F of JVR Bldg., 5782 Felipe St., Bel-Air, Makati, Metro Manila.
3. El Union Coffee
The most hipster tambayan in La Union, you’re most likely to find El Union packed with millenials no matter what time you drop by. You’ll also most probably find everyone sipping on the cafe’s bestselling drink—Horchata!
El Union’s version of the beverage is made with rice milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and almond essence. They also have another variant called Dirty Horchata that’s finished off with a shot espresso for an extra kick! Unisse C. tried it out and had good things to say about it in her looloo review: “I was actually really happy with this drink. It wasn’t too strong and it wasn’t too milky either. A good balance to all the sweet stuff we had.”
El Union Coffee can be found at MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union.
With a name like Gorda, which literally translates to ‘fat lady’, you can expect all kinds of tasty dishes in this fusion restaurant. But aside from great food, they have a pretty creative lineup of drinks too, one of which is the Horchata Morena!
Made with homemade roasted grains, whiskey, and rum, this horchata drink will give you the buzz you need after a dragging day at work. After trying it out, Norman Lester T. raved about it in his looloo review, saying: “Trust me when I say that I can drink this every night. I don’t normally give up beer, but I’d skip it for this. The base was creamy and malt-y. The roasted grains gave it a nice aftertaste. The cinnamon spiced it up too.”
Gorda can be found on the 2/F of Uptown Parade, 9th Ave. cor. 38th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila.
Lagrima, which means teardrop in Spanish, is quite the fitting name for this neighborhood taqueria. You might just find yourself weeping tears of joy when you get a taste of their no-frills but delicious Mexican entrees! As a bonus, they know how to make a mean glass of horchata too.
There’s nothing fancy about their version of the drink–just a simple concoction of roasted rice, almonds, and cinnamon. But it’s the perfect beverage to wash down your nachos / taco / burrito / quesadilla with. This is what Paolo S. had to say about it in his looloo review: “They make a f**king good one, so good 1 glass wasn’t enough. I’ll boldly say that this is the best i’ve had here.”
Lagrima can be found on the G/F of BSA Mansion, 108 Benavidez St., Legazpi Village, Makati, Metro Manila.