Summer is officially here.
It’s just the second week of May, and it’s already sweltering hot.
It’s so fucking hot, I’m sweating buckets. Just to avoid dehydration, I’ve resorted to a semi-liquid diet. Plain water won’t cut it, so I’ve started drinking coolers and sherbets.
And yet another type of refreshing beverage I’m looking forward to this summer is agua fresca.
Literally meaning ‘fresh waters’ in Spanish, aguas frescas have long been consumed as a cooling, refreshing beverage during summers. Generally made with puréed fruits, sugar and herbs with water, aguas frescas are packed with fresh flavours. Other flavouring ingredients include seeds and flowers.
Certain fruits such as melons can be directly puréed and used. Fruits with a higher acidic content, like citrus fruits and berries, maybe first cooked with sugar. This recipe by Bon Appétit uses tamarind as the base ingredient, which is cooked with water and dates.
You could also add a shot or two of a beverage of your choice — rum, vodka, tequila — to turn it into a cocktail. Preferably use the corresponding flavor while using the alcohol — coconut rum for fresh coconut agua fresca, orange liqueur for orange agua fresca, etc.
If done properly, agua frescas can be stored for about a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, and 2-3 months when frozen.
This recipe includes honey, lemon juice and lavender. The floral notes of lavender lend well to the honey and lemon. In fact, you could also use lavender honey* if available at hand.
Honey Lavender Agua Fresca
- Servings: 4 – 6
- Time: 20mins + chilling
- Difficulty: Easy
- 150mL fresh lemon juice
- 150g honey
- 30g dried lavender flowers
- 10g salt
- sparkling water/ club soda
- In a large saucepan, add 500ml of regular water, honey, half the lavender flowers and some salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat.
- Simmer until reduced by half. Remove from heat, let cool down to room temperature.
- Strain into a large container/ bowl/ jar. Top it up with lemon juice and some more water, mix well and adjust the taste. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
In a glass, pour out 45mL of the agua fresca on the rocks [over ice]. Finish the agua fresca by topping up with sparkling water or club soda.
Drizzle over some honey, garnish with dried lavender flowers, and serve.
- Use the freshest possible ingredients, particularly the lemon juice. Store-bought lemon juice tends to be a tad too sugary.
- Monofloral honey — honey obtained from a single type of flower — are quite common. Lavender honey and orange blossom honey are the most common ones.
- Retaining the steeped lavender flowers can lend a bitter aftertaste, so it’s best that they’re strained out early on.
- Don’t add sparkling water/ soda during the chilling process — instead, chill the water/soda separately.
- Up the ante by adding sparkling wines, such as Prosecco, while serving.
What’s your go-to drink for summer? Let me know in the comments below.