5@5 - How to make aguas frescas, Mexico's summer coolers
July 17th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Anthony Lamas has fond memories of traveling to Tijuana, Mexico, while living in California just to get aguas frescas from street vendors, who would ladle the refreshing beverages over ice. The fruit coolers are simple combinations of fruits, and sometimes cereals or seeds, with sugar and water.

“To Latinos, not even lemonade can evoke summer like aguas frescas,” says Lamas, the executive chef of Seviche in Louisville, Kentucky. “In Mexico, for example, popular flavors include tamarind, passion fruit and mango, but since I am in the South, I like to use peaches and melons. It’s really about using what is local and in season.”

Five Refreshing Aguas Frescas: Anthony Lamas

anthony lamas

1. Watermelon Agua Fresca
This is one of the most refreshing aguas frescas, and it makes great use of the abundance of watermelons available during the summer months. I recommend yellow watermelon, which provides great color.

1 whole watermelon, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (In Mexico, the seeds are served in the beverage, but you may wish to use a seedless variety or seed the melon.)
3 cups ice (crushed is easiest to measure)
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups sugar

Place the watermelon in a pitcher and use a potato masher to crush the fruit. Add the sugar and lime juice and cover the mixture with the ice and water. Stir for about 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, pour the agua fresca over ice and garnish with a lime wedge if desired.

2. Honeydew Agua Fresca
Select honeydews that are heavy for their size. Use the base recipe as described above, but substitute one whole honeydew for the watermelon. Reduce the amount of sugar to one cup.

3. Peach Agua Fresca
Fresh Georgia peaches are fantastic in this recipe. Use the base recipe as described above, but substitute 12 peeled, pitted and chopped peaches for the watermelon and reduce the amount of sugar to one cup.

4. Kiwi-Lime Agua Fresca
Kiwi is a unique ingredient for agua fresca, and it is complemented well by plenty of lime juice. Use the base recipe as described above, but substitute 12 kiwi for the watermelon, reduce the amount of sugar to one cup and increase the limes to six.

5. Horchata
This is a milky variation on the fruit aguas frescas. A great way to serve it is in a margarita glass with a cinnamon-sugar rim.

1 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup almonds
5 cups water
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 cups ice

Put the rice, almonds and water in a blender and blend until the rice and almonds are broken up, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate the mixture overnight. Strain the water into a pitcher. Add the ice, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla bean. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

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soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Diana Ruiz

    Do any of the recipe for the aguas frescas require water? Thank You

    January 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Diana Ruiz

      I meant to say how much water does the recipes for aguas frescas require /

      January 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  2. ricko

    AGUA FRESCA DE JAMAICA.In gallon jar. (glass better)add one hand full of JAMAICA flowers(dry)plus a pinch filled with water live it outside where there is sun for about 4 hours.bringed inside scoop out the JAMAICA flowers and squeeese theme by hand.add 4 to 6 soupspoons of sugar to it DEPENDS IN YOUR TASTE.mixed well untill it disolves git 6 8 oz.glasses fill them with ice pour the AGUA FRESCA DE JAMAICA> to the rim.sit uourself under the shade and enjoy it.....hummmm..haaa.

    December 7, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  3. SandyStorm

    Add some good rum or vodka and count me in :)

    July 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  4. NIkki

    Interested in ready to drink aguas frescos (jamaica, tamarindo, guayaba, mango, horchata)?? http://drinkcoba.com/
    They're all natural and ready-to-drink!

    July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  5. sam

    No jamaica recipe? A shame.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • ricko

      sam i hope you like it.you ever try agua fresca de CHIA>That is another one and healthy too.

      December 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  6. Failer

    I just ate my ice chest. It too was a tasty summer cooler.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  7. Latwanda Sheniqua

    Delicious! Mix these ingredients together for a tasty beverage:
    One cup of lime juice. 4 rubarb stalks, 1 cup of prune juice. 1/2 cup of olive oil, 10 radishes, and a can of peas. Blend all items together for about a minute and pour over ice. A taste you will never forget.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Alicia


      July 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  8. WHAT?

    It's water with some fruit thrown in – not a big deal, folks... certainly not worth high prices or the hype.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  9. Paul

    "1 whole watermelon, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes" ..."Place the watermelon in a pitcher and use a potato masher to crush the fruit."

    Why take the time to cut the watermelon into 1-inch cubes if they're just going to be crushed? Just cut the watermelon into chunks small enough to fit in the pitcher.

    July 18, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  10. Alex

    I would kill for an agua fresca right about now in hot DC!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  11. Enrique

    Goddamn it, I'm thirsty right now. I'mma ask my dad and granny to make some of their famous secret horchata drink.

    July 17, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  12. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    I love watermelon frescas. Had it for the first time in NM with some grilled corn at a food festival. Fell in love right away

    July 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • angrybabykitty

      They are quite good. I live in SC and can't get a decent one anywhere.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        Try the resipe! Better yet, make it in a bathtub, Breaking Bad style!

        I lay no claim to your house fire, though, if you choose to do so.

        July 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
        • angrybabykitty

          Eh, well my husband already torched a microwave and an oven this year (don't ask). Whats another fire? We do have decent moonshine down here..lol

          July 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
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