Mexico’s Aguas Frescas

13 Jul

I remember my first taste of agua de horchata. I was living in Acapulco and I stopped by a little neighborhood cafe with a girlfriend. She told me it was a refreshing drink made with rice, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. This piqued my curiosity because I had a hard time understanding how rice could be refreshing. The waitress set a glass down in front of me filled with what looked like milk with a slight beige tint. I took a sip, and my love affair with aguas frescas was born.

Aguas frescas roughly translates to “refreshing waters” in Spanish. They’re delicious drinks with a water and sugar base, infused with fruits, cereals (like rice or wheat), or even flowers. You can find them at any food establishment throughout Mexico, whether it’s a taco stand or a five-star restaurant, and they provide an incredible alternative to water or soda.

My friend Leslie Limon is also a huge fan of aguas frescas. She’s a beautiful American woman raising a family in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. (Oh, who am I kidding? She’s practically Mexican!) On her blog, La Cocina de Leslie, she posts mouthwatering Mexican recipes, including aguas frescas.

Since she is so much more talented than I am in the kitchen (ahem), I’ll share some of my favorite recipes from her blog…

Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Water) Leslie refers to this drink as part of the “aguas frescas trinity” (Jamaica, Horchata and Tamarindo, the three flavors you’re sure to find everywhere in Mexico). It’s a personal favorite… very refreshing and made from dried hibiscus flowers. Talk about exotic!

Agua de Pepino (Cucumber Limeade) I tried this for the first time at the Mexico Today Kick-Off Event in Oaxaca. I just wish I’d discovered it sooner! I prefer mine with extra lime.

Agua de Sandia (Watermelon Water) No explanation needed for this one! Just as refreshing as it sounds.

(Leslie, you’re missing my favorite! I’d love to see your recipe for agua de melon.)

During my trip to Oaxaca, a few of us also got to experience an aguas frescas tasting with the city’s famous Aguas Casilda. They set up a table offering clay pots of refreshing drinks, then combined them to make unique flavors.

Berta Cruz from Aguas Casilda pouring some lovely "agua de horchata"

"Agua de horchata" mixed with "agua de tuna" (the fruit, not the fish!) (although here in the Yucatan, we'd call it "agua de pitaya")

They offered us different combinations of tuna (aka pitaya), horchata, lime, and even pumpkin. The pumkin water didn’t look too appetizing, but trust me, it was delicious!

A makeshift Mexican flag made with "limon", "horchata" and "tuna"

It was an incredible experience to taste these incredibly fresh aguas frescas. If you want to learn more about different flavors, you can check out Aguas Casilda’s website by clicking on the button (Make sure to click on the “Sabores” tab to see everything they offer… pretty impressive!):

Next time you’re in a restaurant in Mexico, make sure to ask, “Qué aguas tienes?

Have you ever tried any aguas frescas? What’s your favorite flavor? (Mine is agua de melon… canteloupe water!)

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  I was also invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Oaxaca as part of my role.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

30 Responses to “Mexico’s Aguas Frescas”

  1. Nikki July 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Oh my goodness, you just posted about my latest craving! The other day I had a strawberry one at a Mexican restaurant. Only it was sparkly…are they supposed to be? Or is that the American boutique restaurant spin? It was so refreshing I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I even took a picture of it. I’ll be heading over to La Cocina de Leslie right away!

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      Sparkly agua de fresa? hmmm… I suppose they do glisten in the sun, but that’s about it hahaha

      You’ll definitely have to post it on your blog so I can analyze!

  2. holyokehome July 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    SLURRRRRRRP <-the sound I made trying to keep my salivary glands in check while reading this post.

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      Same happens to me every time I see that photo of the pink glass of agua fresca 🙂

  3. KfromMichigan July 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    My FAV is jamaica .. second is watermelon. I bring SEVERAL bottles of concentrado de jamaica home. Can’t live without it. Think I’ll have some now!

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

      Brilliant idea! I might have to do that on my next trip home so my family can have some (they love it!)

  4. lisa n javi July 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Yumm I think my favorites are fresa y limon. How cool you got to experience tasting all those combinations of aguas.

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

      Fresa is pretty popular, but I’m not a huge fan! Limon, however, is amazing!

      The combinations were pretty amazing… horchata con limon was surprisingly good

  5. Rita Gervais July 13, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    I like horchata and jamaica. However, I don’t like them from a dried powder in a package. Also, I’ve had them in restaurants, but I am scared to buy them off the streets. I’m not sure if it is safer in a restaurant, but seeing the vendors along the canal makes me worry about the source of the water.

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      Agreed, the powdered stuff is NOT the same, and not nearly as refreshing. I’ve bought aguas several times from street vendors, usually served in a plastic bottle, and never had any issues. At least in this part of the country, even the locals drink only purified water.

  6. Ang July 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Not fair, I want to try one! I didn’t even know about them – I’m off to check out making one on my own! HA – as if!

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

      You should definitely try it! Check out Leslie’s recipes (links within the post). It’s pretty simple… all you need is a few ingredients and a blender 🙂

  7. Ana L. Flores July 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Loved the horchata with tuna we tried in Oaxaca!! Casilda´s Aguas had many flavors I had never even heard of. Quiero una ya!

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

      I know! Their list of flavors on their website is INSANE.

  8. Silvia July 13, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Love aguas frescas, I’ve been making agua de melon, agua de sandia y agua de limon almost every day!!

    I really enjoyed the Casilda’s horchata with tuna (the fruit not the fish!) in Oaxaca a new discovery to me!!

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

      Every day? Can I visit your place? 😉

  9. Libby July 13, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    OMG!!!! If I ever get to Oaxaca I will have to try every one of them. Love Agua de Sandia!!

    • gringation July 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

      You should definitely visit Oaxaca… I had no idea how beautiful it was until I got there.

  10. ashlie July 14, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    I remember when I first moved to Cancun and I went out for tacos and I saw lots of people drinking what I thought was milk and I thought to myself “how strange, so many people drinking milk at night with tacos” until I realized it was agaua de horchata. My favourite is agua de melon and agua de sandia.

  11. Laura July 14, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    I love agua de pepino! The visit to Aguas Casilda sounds great, I would have liked to try some of the other flavors. I’ll have to look for them here in DF! 😉

  12. DM July 15, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    I wonder if the “water” we can get at Sonic is a play off this? They really do sound delicious. You make me want to come to Mexico!

  13. Krysten July 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    YUM! I want one!

  14. Oskar July 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I’m currently living toghether with the family in Guadalajara, Jalisco. We make all kinds of ‘aqua fresca’ at home and we make it a gallon at a time. However from how long the water lasts I would say that the favorites of all the family are Limon and Jamaica those gallons hardly last a day…:-)

  15. Kristi July 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    I am so glad you linked to Leslie’s blog! I checked it out and now I am starving!! Right up my alley. Hoping to try a few of her recipes! Of course you also made me hungry with talk of aqua fresca

  16. Ceri July 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Mmmmmmmm. My mouth’s watering. Tasting these bad boys will be on my to-do list for when I get there. 🙂

  17. jamnkatsathy July 19, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    The worst I ever had was in Guanajuato – grass (agua verde but it tasted like grass). Probably super healthy. My favorite is a very seasonal local – agua de guarabana.

  18. Kathryn July 20, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    I have heard of these for a long time, but have never tried one. I love the sound of the pumpkin one and I have heard that horchata is amazing. I’d try making them myself, but I don’t think I’d do them justice!

  19. GRRRL TRAVELER August 20, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    That pink smoothie looking one looks yummy! Although after trying some of the “flower drinks” that are really sweet (like rose or … I can’t remember the name but it’s green) but popular in Thailand, i’m nervous about paying money to try them. Maybe Mexicos flower power is different.


  1. México Today’s new Online Social Magazine and highlights from the past four months | Go Mexico Guide - October 17, 2011

    […] for something to wash it all down? Laura shares the origins of her love affair with aguas frescas and some delicious recipes courtesy of La Cocina de […]

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