Lakeside Guide to Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico

Aguas Frescas

At a Glance

Refreshing drinks made from fruits or grains.

More Info

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.

Market Day

Aguas frescas at the tianguis during market day in Ajijic.

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.

Agua fresca being served at  El Chile Verde.

Agua fresca being served at El Chile Verde.

Paleterías will sell a dozen or more flavors, which are kept chilled in refrigerated cases along with paletas (popsicles) and ice cream.

Agua fresca de menta: water blended with fresh mint.

Agua fresca de menta: fresh mint leaf. Served at Pian Thai Kitchen.

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.

Agua fresca de frambuesa: blended raspberries and water.

Agua fresca de frambuesa: a raspberry agua fresca. Served at Lonchería Mary.

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.

A limonada mineral: mineral water with lime juice and sugar.

A limonada mineral: mineral water with lime juice and sugar. Served at La Casa del Café.

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.

An agua fresca de jamaica with rosemary. Jamaica gets its color from its sole ingredient (besides water and sweetener), the hibiscus flower.

A jamaica (pronounced hah-MY-kah) with rosemary, which is made by boiling dried hibiscus flower. Served at Dharma.

Dried jamaica (hibiscus) flowers for making delicious jamaica agua fresca. Hibiscus tea, hot or cold, is found in many cultures; this variety originated in Sudan.

This variety of hibiscus, found at El Granero, originated in Sudan and is grown today all over the world.

One or two aguas frescas are usually available. An agua fresca is a popular drink made with water and, usually, fruit. This is horchata: rice water, which tastes pretty much like rice milk. At Tacos Los Fabian, it's not too sweet.

Horchata: water and rice milk. It’s one of the most popular agua frescas in Mexico, along with jamaica. Served at Tacos Los Fabian.

Agua fresca de avena con fresa (water with ground oats and chopped fresh strawberries).

Agua fresca de avena con fresa: ground oats and chopped fresh strawberries.

Agua fresca de sandía: watermelon juice.

Agua fresca de sandía: watermelon. Served at Pian Thai Kitchen.

Agua fresca de piña: water and pineapple juice.

Agua fresca de piña: pineapple. Served at Hot Rod Burrito Grill.

A strawberry agua fresca.

A strawberry agua fresca, served at Lobo de Mar Mariscos.

Agua fresca de melón: canteloupe juice.

Agua fresca de melón: cantaloupe.

Last updated July 9, 2019

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