Turn your favorite fruits into agua fresca (photo courtesy and recipe chart below Good Eggs).
 If you can borrow a tap dispenser, it’s more convenient than pitchers (photo courtesy Flavor & The Menu).
It’s heading above 90 degrees and humid here for the next few days, and we’re planning enough cool drinks to tide us over.
Beyond water, sparkling water and our cache of diet soft drinks, we’re making a few quarts of agua fresca. In Spanish, agua fresca means fresh water; but in culinary terms, the water is combined with fresh fruit juice. The result: refreshing cold drinks that are sold by street vendors and at cafés throughout Latin America.
A traditional agua fresca is an infused, sweetened water, flavored with fruits and/or vegetables. Nonalcoholic and noncarbonated, in the U.S. a similar drink is called a cooler.
Agua fresca is also available bottled, in numerous flavors, and is made from scratch at home.
The recipes can include a combination of fruits or veggies, flowers, herbs and/or spices, cereals, seeds, even almond flour. The result is often a more complex layering of flavors than American lemonade and limeade.
Agua de horchata, a very popular recipe, is made of ground raw rice spiced with cinnamon.
Other ingredients include flowers (hibiscus), herbs (sorrel), grains (alfalfa, barley, oats, rice), nuts and seeds (almond flour, chía). Try incorporating some of these after you’re already pleased with a basic fruit and/or vegetable recipe.
HAVE AN AGUA FRESCA PARTY
Make a few flavors and supply a choice of garnishes.
Depending on your guests, a choice of clear spirits—cachaca, gin, tequila, vodka—may also be welcome.
Fruits: banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, guava, mango, orange, papaya, passionfruit, pineapple, strawberry, watermelon
Tart juice complement: lemon, lime, tamarind
Garnishes: basil, cucumber wheel, jalapeño, lemongrass, mint, sliced and notched fruit
For a vegetable component, cucumber is the most popular (with lime and mint or pineapple). But you can turn to other juices: carrot juice and apple or pineapple, beet juice and berries, etc.
Keep it light: save the kale and broccoli for the juice bar.
Chill the drinks in the fridge, but also have a supply of ice cubes.