All you need to know about agua fresca
Agua fresca – or ‘fresh water’, as it translates from its native Mexican – is a sweet drink made using fresh fruit blended with water and sugar.
Originally created in Mexico, the traditional drink has long been a staple served in restaurants, cafes and markets across Central America. The cool drink is a perfect accompaniment to spicy foods.
Now the growing popularity of Mexican cuisine and culture, and trends towards all-natural, alcohol-free and flavour packed drinks have elevated agua fresca internationally.
What is agua fresca made of?
Agua fresca is a simple but tasty drink, requiring little more than fruit and water.
Typically, the drink is made by blending fresh fruit with water, sugar and a dash of citrus juice – or cucumber or hibiscus, depending on the fruits used and flavours desired. The blending is key here – quickly turning chopped fruit into a smoother, pourable consistency.
Agua frescas can also be made using pre-blended syrups containing all the fruit flavours. This method suits the growing numbers of ready-to-drink agua frescas on the market.
Coca Cola-owned brand Minute Maid, has recently launched a range of ready-to-drink agua frescas, using hibiscus, mango and strawberry. Another US brand, Bawi, has also launched sparkling agua frescas in passionfruit, pineapple and lemon flavours.
What is the difference between agua fresca and juice?
While both are tasty fruit-based drinks, the difference between agua frescas and juices is in how they’re made. Fruit juices are typically made from 100% pure juice extracted from whole fruits. An agua fresca blends the fruit with water. This means agua frescas are lighter than juices and can boast more of the natural fruit flavours.
Agua fresca isn’t a new, more natural derivative of juice though. It’s thought to have first been created by the Aztecs, in fact – as early back as 1300.
What is the best flavour of agua fresca?
Soft fruits filled with sweet and floral flavours make the best agua frescas.
Watermelon aqua fresca is one of the most popular versions. For a refreshing drink it works alone, while its simple natural flavour makes a great base for additions like blackberry, blueberry, kiwi, lime and mint.
With high water content other melons are ideal bases for agua frescas too – like cantaloupe with raspberry and mint, or honeydew and lime.
Similarly, cucumber – with the highest water content of any botanical – is a great base for a high fibre, low calorie agua fresca. ‘Agua de pepinos’ are best created with extra lemon, lime or mint for flavour, or with seeds to thicken and texturise the drink.
Tropical fruits are also popular for agua frescas. With high water content and a sharp, unmistakable taste, pineapple makes up an adventurous agua fresca, while mango or passionfruit make for smoother agua frescas.
Agua frescas are also a good way to try out tropical fruits less commonly used in drinks, like guava or papaya.
Can agua frescas be made with ingredients other than fruit?
Agua frescas are traditionally fruit-based but adventurous drinkers and producers are adding in extra ingredients like botanicals, seasonings and even spirits.
Hibiscus has been particularly popular in agua frescas, its tart flavour and intense colour creating an exotic, floral drink.
Where a classic agua fresca can complement, and take the edge of a spicy meal, more adventurous versions can elevate spicy flavours.
Mexican and American drinkers have been enjoying garnishes of chamoy or tajin – a condiment made using pickled fruit, and a chilli-based seasoning, respectively – to give a sour or spicy edge. Laced around the rim of a glass, these give the same visual appeal and elevated drinking experience as the Mexican salt-rimmed Margarita too.
And while the traditional agua fresca is an alcohol-free drink, they do make a simple base for cocktails. Spiked versions, with Mexican tequila or rums, vodkas or gins, suit the agua frescas tropical roots to create simple summer cocktails.
What’s made agua frescas so popular?
As well as fitting into trends for Mexican cuisine and culture, agua frescas appeal to consumers wanting to enjoy refreshing drinks with a simple ingredients list.
Packed full of vitamins and minerals found in fresh fruit and with high water content, agua frescas are seen as a healthier alternative to sugar-rich juices or smoothies.
If agua fresca could be a fresh addition to your range, speak to us today. We are experts in the science and innovation of drinks, developing flavours that allow our clients to lead on new trends.