Horchata, the sweet, creamy drink with both Spanish and Latin American roots that’s made from ground nuts or grains, has taken on some delicious variations lately. Here’s where to get your fix around town.
The cinnamon-dusted Lotta Chotta at Big Shoulders Coffee subs horchata for dairy milk, thus delivering a fragrant caffeine kick that, thanks to espresso, isn’t overly saccharine. Order it iced for an afternoon treat or hot for a tasty hand warmer during your a.m. commute. 1105 W. Chicago Ave., 312-888-3042
At Mana Food Bar, a Japanese cocktail with a lot of sugar and a Spanish accent enlists a rich sake called nigori and housemade horchata crafted with almond milk and rice water. (Fret not, teetotalers: MFB also has a version without sake.) 1742 W. Division St., 773-342-1742
Edzo’s Burger Shop, the maker of the thickest milk shakes around, introduced its horchata flavor as a special and has kept it by popular demand. Proving that some things are best left lowbrow, the crew blends plain-Jane vanilla ice cream with horchata concentrate sourced from good ol’ Costco and caps it with a mountain of whipped topping (straight from the can) and a cherry. Edzo’s Burger Shop, edzos.com for locations
Katherine Anne Confections marries its amazing drinking chocolate with horchata and, well, yum. If you’re in the market for something less indulgent, the shop also offers a bite-size horchata fix of the truffle variety: a velvety filling of lime zest and juice combined with housemade rice milk and blanketed in white chocolate. It’s more citrusy than most horchata treats (in a blind taste test, one might peg the flavor as Key lime), but the sweet-tart combo is irresistible. 2745 W. Armitage Ave., 773-245-1630
It only makes sense that a bakery known for its Mexican-tinged sweets would whip up horchata-flavored indulgences. GBD Cakes and Sweets offers white-chocolate-covered cake truffles and cinnamon-studded cupcakes with generous twirls of icing. The flavor is that of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and geared toward the hardcore sweet tooth. 2039 N. Western Ave., 312-401-7065
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits’ head baker, Carrie Rubinas, has a horchata addiction, so it was only a matter of time before she made the drink in pie form. The custardy filling is flecked with cinnamon and nestled into perfect graham cracker crust. The whole shebang is finished with a heap of whipped cream and crispy puffed rice reminscent of your breakfast cereal. If you want a taste, andale, because it’s only on the menu through this weekend. 2051 N. California Ave., 773-276-8888