If you asked me what my favorite food or drink was on my first trip to Mexico, you might be surprised to find that it wasn’t the fresh ceviche or the comforting regional specialty, cochinita pibil. The most memorable tastes for me in Playa del Carmen were, undoubtedly, the aguas frescas.
Taste the fruits of the season by making any of these favorite aguas frescas for your Cinco de Mayo party.
By: Elizabeth Toy
Aguas Frescas, which translates to “fresh waters” in Spanish, are made with fresh produce, botanicals, sweetener, and water. They are sold and served in markets, restaurants, and from tiny stalls in the street.
These are the most refreshing beverages I’ve had on a hot day. Even the flavors I didn’t expect to enjoy pleasantly surprised me. Pineapple with celery? Yes, please!
The very term aguas frescas is now permanently sunburned into my mind along with the flashbacks of swaying palm trees, gentle waves lapping at the shoreline, and the sounds of soulful salsa music only growing louder as the sun sinks farther into the horizon.
Whether you’re celebrating at a get-together with friends or just chillin’ at home for Cinco de Mayo, make any one of these three aguas frescas to taste the spirit of summer in a Mexican beach town.
Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca
Adapted from Simply Recipes’ Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca
- 1 lb. of cucumbers (about 2 good-sized cucumbers), ends trimmed, seeds removed, but peel still on, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup lime juice from fresh limes (from about 1 pound of limes, or 5 to 10 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
- 1 1/4 cup packed (spearmint) mint leaves (about a large handful), woody stems removed
- 1/2 cup beet sugar, agave nectar, or stevia (to taste)
- Approximately 1 1/4 cup of water
- Put ingredients in blender, add enough water to fill 3/4 of blender. Hold the lid on the blender and purée until smooth.
- Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the purée through it, pressing against the sieve with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid out as possible.
- Fill a large pitcher halfway with ice cubes. Add the juice. Serve with sprigs of mint and slices of lime.
Have you tried Agua de Jamaica? Also known as the Mexican version of Hibiscus Tea, this refreshing drink is a favorite for its sweet and tart taste as well as its many health benefits.
Peach season is creeping up on us and you may have already seen the first harvest at your local farmer’s market. Let those grown-up taste buds bask in the glory of this unexpectedly fragrant combination.
Peach Lavender Agua Fresca
Adapted from Sugar and Charm’s Peach Lavendar Agua Fresca
- 6 peaches
- 1/4 cup lavender (fresh or dried)
- 1/2 cup beet sugar, agave nectar, or stevia (always to taste!)
- 2 quarts water
- Roughly chop the peaches
- Blend peaches, lavender, sweetener, and water
- Pour the mixture over a strainer into a large pitcher and stir.
- Serve over ice with a slice of peach for garnish.
Pineapple Celery Agua Fresca
- 1 ripe pineapple, peeled and chunked
- 3 large celery stalks, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 cups of water
- Sprigs of parsley (optional)
- Blend the pineapple, celery, and 3 sprigs of parsley (opt.) with with 3 cups of water.
- Pour through a strainer into a large pitcher
- Serve over ice, garnished with a parsley sprig per glass.
If you want another fruity thirst quencher, try this refreshing watermelon smoothie recipe, (essentially a watermelon mint agua fresca!).
Don’t forget my childhood favorite, Horchata. This recipe is made with a vegan twist, using coconut water.
Make one to keep in the fridge for your family and friends or make all three for your own aguas frescas bar for Cinco de Mayo.
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