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The best cocktail for horchata lovers in L.A.

El Cumbunchero cocktail at Broken Spanish
Chris Chernock, beverage director at Broken Spanish, makes the El Cumbunchero cocktail, a concoction of coconut horchata blended with cinnamon bitters, rum and tequila.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

At Broken Spanish in downtown L.A., homemade coconut-and-rice horchata blends with homemade canela bitters and vanilla bean simple syrup for its horchata-inspired cocktail, El Cumbunchero. The inherent sweetness of the rum, tequila and float of sherry brings out the sweetness of the rice and coconut for a potent take on the classic agua fresca.

Horchata, the rice milk drink flavored with cinnamon, is supposed to be made with water, but many shops add dairy to the mix.

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The El Cumbunchero cocktail at Broken Spanish.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

El Cumbunchero

5 minutes. Makes 1 cocktail.

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Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Coconut Horchata Cream (see recipe below)
  • ¾ ounce tequila reposado
  • ¾ ounce aged rum aguardiente, preferably Gustoso
  • ¼ ounce Vanilla Syrup (see recipe below)
  • 2 dashes Canela Bitters (see recipe below)
  • ½ ounce Oloroso sherry
  • Mint sprig, maraschino cherry and grated nutmeg, to garnish

Instructions
In a cocktail shaker, combine the horchata cream, tequila, rum, syrup and bitters. Add crushed ice, cover and shake until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled Collins glass and fill with more crushed ice. Float the sherry on top of the cocktail, then top with a scoop of crushed ice so it’s mounded slightly over the the rim. Stand a mint spring in the ice, then stab a cherry with a cocktail toothpick and lay it over the rim. Grate a light dusting of fresh nutmeg over the cocktail to serve.

Adapted from Broken Spanish’s beverage director Chris Chernock and lead bartender Pablo Gutierrez.

Coconut Horchata Cream

5 minutes, plus 1 day of soaking. Makes enough mix for 18 cocktails.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 cans (14 ounces) unsweetened canned coconut cream
  • 1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup superfine sugar or granulated sugar

Instructions
Place the rice in a fine strainer and place under running water until the water runs clear. Combine the rice, the coconut cream and milk, and the sugar in a large bowl and use an immersion or stand blender to break up the rice. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and into a storage container. Refrigerate until ready to use.

All-Clad’s three-piece stainless steel strainer set makes easy work of straining rice water for silky smooth horchata.

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Vanilla Syrup

5 minutes, plus 1 ½ hours steeping. Makes 1 ½ cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 2 spent vanilla beans)

Instructions
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and water and stir to dissolve. Add the vanilla bean and use an immersion or stand blender to break up the vanilla bean. Let steep for 1 ½ hours, then pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bottle. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Canela Bitters

5 minutes, plus 1 day of soaking. Makes 2 cups.

Ingredients

  • 4 canela (Mexican cinnamon) sticks
  • 2 cups high-proof grain spirit, such as Everclear or vodka

Instructions
Heat the oven to 450 degrees or heat a medium skillet over high heat. Place the cinnamon sticks on a small baking sheet and bake (or toss in the skillet) until they start to blacken in spots, about 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the oven or skillet and transfer to a storage container. Pour in the high-proof spirit and let soak for 24 hours.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bottle and discard the cinnamon sticks. Store the bitters indefinitely.


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