What are aguas frescas?
An agua fresca (“fresh water”) is a refreshing water- or milk-based drink made from fruits or grains. The ingredients are usually combined in a blender. The resulting consistency can be on the thick side with small chunks of fruit or it can end up being thin and more like juice. It all depends on the fruit and the preferences of the chef.
Restaurants sometimes serve aguas frescas, making one or two flavors fresh each day and putting them out for customers in large plastic barrels. You’ll sometimes find people selling them, along with snacks, in front of their homes.
Paleterías will sell a dozen or more flavors, which are kept chilled in refrigerated cases along with paletas (popsicles) and ice cream.
Aguas frescas come in many flavors. The most common around Lake Chapala are horchata (rice milk), jamaica (hibiscus flower), piña (pineapple), lime (limón) and lima (which is kind of a cross between lime and lemon). You might also find passion fruit (maracuyá), strawberry (fresa), raspberry (frambuesa), cantaloupe (melón), watermelon (sandía), mint (hierbabuena), coconut (coco), citruses (cítricos) and others.
Aguas frescas are made with fresh fruit, probably from one of Ajijic’s fruterías.
And then there are limonadas and naranjadas, which are also aguas frescas, but often listed separately on menus. A limonada is lime juice with water and a naranjada is water plus orange juice. You’ll probably be asked if you want it natural with regular water or mineral with mineral water. They’ll be made for you fresh on the spot.
Aguas frescas tend to be sweet, as Mexico is in love with its sugary drinks. Diabetes is the leading cause of death in the country according to the World Health Organization, correlating with increased soda consumption.
If an agua fresca is being individually prepared for you, such as a limonada, you can always request how much sugar you want.Last updated July 9, 2019