Agua fresca (Spanish for fresh water) is a light, non-alcoholic drink served by street vendors, in bodegas, and at eateries throughout Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, as well as Mexican cafés and taquerias around the U.S. They are made by combining fresh fruits, grains, seeds, and even flowers, with sugar and water.
Thanks to modern-day globalization, you can find ready-made agua fresca options anytime at Latin import stores, both in bottled varieties and instant mixes. But during the warmer spring and summer months, whipping up a few batches for your home barbecue is simple, and a great way to take advantage of the bounty of budget-friendly fresh ingredients from your local farmer’s market. Your creativity’s the limit when it comes to presenting your potion to party guests. So grab a blender (we love this one) and get mixing!
Mango Agua Fresca is a light, refreshing water drink infused with fruit essence. Subtly sweet and free of artificial sugars, this drink is light, healthy, and most importantly, delicious. In addition to mango, feel free to experiment with other flavors such as strawberry, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew.
- 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey, more or less to taste
- mint leaves and lime wedges, for garnish
A nip of fresh mint rounds out the acidity of this refreshing chiller. Showcase it on your summer cook out menu as a skinny, booze-free substitute for a piña colada.
- 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped
- fresh mint
Using sweet watermelon pieces in this skinny variety of agua fresca makes sugar an optional add-in, so it’s low-calorie and delicious.
- 4 cups of water
- 1 1/2 pounds of watermelon (rind removed), seeded and chopped into a 1-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar (optional)
- juice of 1/2 lime
This unique, low-calorie take on agua fresca will dance on your taste buds when you add tangy, sparkling water.
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 3/4 cups peeled English cucumber slices (about 1 medium cucumber)
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)
- 1 1/2 cups crushed ice
- 2 cups lime-flavored sparkling water, chilled
- English cucumber ribbons (optional)
Tamarind, also known as “Indian Date,” is a legume that’s native to Africa but grown throughout the world in tropical climates, including Latin America. The tart-tasting seed is the star of this popular fruit water drink from Mexico.
- 1 1/2 pounds of dried tamarind
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 cup of sugar
This traditional Mexican beverage is made with rice. You may find it in other parts of Latin America made with different seeds or nuts added in. For a dairy-free beverage, you can use water instead of evaporated milk.
- 2 cups of dry, white rice
- 3 cups of water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 can of evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract