Comb through the annals of holiday beverages and you're apt to see large sections devoted to eggnog and peppermint cocoa and hot toddies and warm cider and champurrado.
But unlike most seasonal drinks, champurrado's appeal extends to two different holiday periods, albeit holidays that don't sit too far away from each other on the calendar. It's a popular sip during Día de los Muertos, and it arrives again, in creamy, chocolate-licious force during December's Las Posadas.
The Mexican beverage has some connections with its thematic cousins cocoa and hot chocolate, but a fine champurrado has a texture, and body, that is so deliciously distinctive that it can't be mistaken for another treat.
It's the masa de maíz, or corn flour, that thickens it right up in the cup, and the addition of egg can make it feel a bit like a meal, dessert, and a drink, all in one. Is there a nutty component, too? Frequently, and yummily.
Sipping champurrado at Olvera Street during Las Posadas, the annual journey of Mary and Joseph as they search for a room at the inn, is tradition. Tradition and tastily free: Champurrado is complimentary during the nine-night event. (Those nine nights run from Dec. 16 through Christmas Eve.)
As for a spin with a salty crunch on the side? Make for Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, and order Abuelita's Champurrado, which includes "housemade hazelnut milk, dates, avocado (used to thicken the eggnog in place of egg yolks), coconut milk, sea salt, nutmeg, Mexican canela, house aguardiente." The aforementioned crunch comes from a side of organic popcorn topped with a drizzle of chocolate.
Where will you enjoy one of the ultimate holiday beverages, one that's thick with flavor, texture, and ties to not one but two meaning-packed celebrations? We give a seasonal, sparkly "salud" to one of the greatest of year-end beverages, the champurrado.