My obsession with horchata began exactly where it should: on the coast of Valencia, surrounded by orange blossom and flamingos. On my return to Madrid, I vowed never to rest until I’d found the best horchata in town, and there it was – as it has been for 74 years – in a little roadside kiosk run by the fifth generation of the same family.
Cousins Miguel and José are the proud ambassadors of their great grandparents’ creation. In 1944, Francisco and Francisca Guilabert built their little white and blue horchata kiosk, joining around 300 others in Madrid. However, as the other horchata kiosks began to close, the family’s passion for theirs only grew, and they would soon realise they were the last to carry the horchata flame in Madrid.
I have a daughter who’s 21. She loves the kiosk, but I don’t think she’ll take over from me. In the past, it was a given that the children would carry on the family business, but now a butcher’s son is becoming a doctor and a fishmonger’s daughter is becoming a lawyer! So no, Miguel and I are probably where it will end.
To this day, Miguel and José stay true to the original family tradition and recipe, making fresh horchata with tiger nuts grown in Valencia. The ingredients are tiger nuts, sugar and water – with no additives or preservatives (and it’s also vegan and naturally gluten-free, by the way).
HOW TO SPOT GOOD HORCHATA
You can order horchata it two ways: líquido (liquid) and granizado (partly frozen). It should have the consistency of milk, without being too creamy, and a fine, fibrous texture from the crushed tiger nuts.
For the half hour we were stood at the bar of the kiosk, drinking our horchata and limón and chatting to José, he served about two dozen people. Some ordered a cup or jar of horchata to go, while others stayed for one at the bar – a rare glimpse of street food in action in Madrid. The kiosk is the original food truck, but with daily regulars and space to prop up the bar.
It’s remarkable really that five generations of the same family have stayed utterly devoted to a business this small. It’s not as if it’s a jeweller’s (you wouldn’t give that up quickly) – it’s a small roadside kiosk which opens for just seven months a year, including during the oppressively hot months of July and August.
To keep a business like this going nowadays is something truly special, so pay them a visit and spread the word!