Horchata is a drink that is made differently depending on what country you're from or happen to be in, and often depending on whose house or restaurant you happen to be sitting in at the time. It can be made from almonds, cashews, tigernuts, sesame seeds, rice, and even, rarely, barley. In my home, it's made from rice, cinnamon, water, a bit of vanilla, and some milk, though sometimes cream, if I want it to be rich. You can follow exact measurements, or you can mix to taste each time you make it. My favorite part about horchata, besides of course the fact that mine tastes like drinkable rice pudding, is that it's ridiculously easy to make, as long as you have a blender, and you think ahead.
I begin making horchata by throwing about a cup of rice and one or two cinnamon sticks in a blender, and then filling the blender just shy of full with water. You don't want the blender completely filled, or when you turn it on some could leak out. (Or at least it does with my blender.) Once you've blended the mixture together for about a minute, let it sit on the counter for at least three hours. At least. You are making cinnamon infused rice milk. I usually let mine sit all afternoon, and I mix in the other ingredients about an hour before I want to drink it, so it can chill.
When you are ready, strain the mixture, pressing the rice and cinnamon mixture against the strainer to get all the liquid out. You'll need a relatively fine weave mesh or cheesecloth to strain this. Once strained, pour the rice milk into whatever pitcher you intend to serve out of, making sure there's lots of extra room. Add some sugar, (I use brown sugar,) and milk or cream. The amounts of both vary to taste, but I usually use around 2-3 cups of milk or cream, (sometimes a mixture of both), and 1/2 to 2/3 cup of sugar. Chill, and enjoy! (For the easier to read recipe, see below.)
1 cup uncooked white long-grain rice
roughly 5 1/2 cups water
1-3 cups milk, cream, or both
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon (or 1-2 cinnamon sticks)
2/3 cup brown sugar
Pour the rice, water, and optionally, cinnamon sticks, into the bowl of a blender; blend until the rice just begins to break up, about 1 minute. Let stand at room temperature for a minimum of 3 hours.
Strain the rice milk into a pitcher and discard the rice. Stir the milk, vanilla, optional ground cinnamon, and sugar into the rice water. Chill and stir before serving over ice.