Agua Fresca

Agua fresca is Spanish for fresh water. It’s a light non-alcoholic drink made from fruit (or flower/seed/cereal) blended with sugar and water, popular in the warmer southern parts of the americas. Typically still water, not sparkling.

If you’re travelling in Mexico, Central America or the southern states of the US, you’ll often see street vendors selling them – but they’re also available in bars and restaurants.

They’re easy, because all you need is fruit, water, sugar and a blender.
And at a pinch if the blender is broken – you can smash them.

Once you’ve mastered the Agua Fresca, you’ll never be short of a mocktail, if you’ve got fruit, sweetener, lime and a garnish in the garden.

No need to get fancy with a garnish – just leave one piece of fruit aside, and sit it on the rim of the glass, or inside the glass. Or a segment of lime. Or a sprig of mint on top.

As it’s not fizzy, you can make a jugful and put it in the fridge to chill for an hour – the flavours will improve nicely along with the extra chill factor.

Wikipedia suggests these main variations:

  • Sweet fruit
  • Sour fruit
  • Seed
  • Cereal
  • Flower

Popular sweet fruit variations include:

  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Watermelon
  • Passionfruit
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Peach
  • Rockmelon
  • Grape
  • Guava
  • Papaya
  • Kiwifruit

Popular sour fruit variations include:

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Pineapple
  • Tamarind
  • Cucumber

Seed variations are typically chia and vegetable.

Cereal variations include barley and horchata.

Flower variations include hibiscus, alfalfa, vanilla.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/agua-fresca-recipe-2343055 has some excellent references for the chia, hibiscus and horchata versions.

Berries such as blackberries and blueberries don’t work well as a base fruit, as they’re too pulpy/seedy.

Experiment with fruit combinations – these ones work very well together:

  • Watermelon and mint
  • Watermelon and honey
  • Cucumber and mint
  • Cucumber and basil
  • Rockmelon and peach
  • Carrot and tangerine
  • Strawberry and honey
  • Orange and papaya
  • Rhubarb and lemon
  • Pineapple and lime
  • Peach and mint
  • Mango and pineapple
  • Strawberry and pineapple
  • Honeydew and raspberry

Agua Fresca work well as an afternoon refresher on a hot summer day.
The sour versions (lemon, lime, cucumber) go nicely as a dinner drink – a light, refreshing counterpoint to a spicy meal.

Typical proportions are:

4 cups chopped fuit
3 cups water
1-2 tablespoons sugar (or simple syrup/agave syrup/honey)
Juice of 1 lime

(or 4 cups water, 2 cups fruit, 2 tspn lime juice, 1/4 cup sugar)

Blend the fruit, water, sweetener.
Optionally sieve, if it’s too pulpy.
Taste test for sweetness.
Serve over ice.

For fun, freeze blocks of fruit instead of ice cubes.