A lychee agua fresca, or cooler. Photo
For summer entertaining, try a menu of aguas frescas.
In Spanish, agua fresca means fresh water. In culinary terms, it refers to a variety of refreshing cold drinks that are sold by street vendors and at cafés throughout Latin America. They’re also available bottled in food stores, and are made from scratch at home.
A traditional agua fresca is an infused, sweetened water, flavored with fruits and/or vegetables—often a more complex layering of flavors than lemonade and limeade. It is nonalcoholic and noncarbonated—in the U.S., it is called a cooler.
The recipes can include a combination of fruits or veggies, flowers, herbs and/or spices, cereals, seeds, even almond flour. Agua de horchata, a very popular recipe, is made of ground raw rice spiced with cinnamon.
Other popular flavors include:
Fruits: banana, cantaloupe, guava, mango, orange, papaya, passionfruit, pineapple, strawberry, watermelon
Sour fruits: cucumber, lemon, lime, tamarind
Flowers and herbs: hibiscus, sorrel
Grains, nuts and seeds: alfalfa, almond flour, barley, chía (often blended with vegetables), oats, rice
Here are some recipes to start you off:
RECIPE: MANGO OR WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA
Very ripe mango or seedless watermelon
Sugar, agave or other sweetener
Fresh lime juice
Optional garnish: lime wedge, berries or other fruit
1. PURÉE equal parts mango/watermelon and water. ADD sweetener and lime juice to taste.
2. CHILL and serve over ice with optional garnish.