What is agua fresca?
Agua fresca (translation: “fresh water”) is a non-alcoholic drink made with fresh fruits, sugar and chilled water. It’s a popular drink throughout Mexico and South America, where it’s commonly served by street vendors. And to me, there is perhaps nothing as refreshing on a sweltering summer day.
Easy to make, and a total crowd-pleaser
In this version, juicy, sweet watermelon, infused with loads of fresh basil and a pinch of cayenne, delivers a libation that’s both cooling and incredibly alluring. Plus it can be made ahead of time, so you’ll have a perfectly cooling watermelon drink on hand when everyone gets thirsty!
Serve it for brunch or as an afternoon’s refreshment… or take it along for a picnic. The whole family will relish this drink.
Watermelon agua fresca with basil and cayenne
makes 8 cups or serves 8
active time: 15 min
- 4 lbs (1.8 kg) seedless watermelon – rind removed and cut in 2″ pieces (7 cups)
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 8 large basil leaves
- 3 1/2 cups cold spring water
- basil leaves as garnish
- Step 1: Place half the watermelon, along with the sugar, lime juice, salt, cayenne, and basil, in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped, then process until liquidy – about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Place the balance of the watermelon pieces in the food processor or blender and process again until liquidy. Add the puréed watermelon and water to the bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to infuse the flavors.
- Step 2: Strain the watermelon mixture through a fine-meshed sieve. When all of the juice has been strained, transfer into glass bottles and discard the pulp. Refrigerate until ready to serve, for up to 3 days. Serve with lots of ice cubes and garnish with the basil leaves.