“Think of it as lemonade, only a bit more complex.”
I don’t hydrate myself enough and I never hear the end of it. Sign me up for an AA meeting, because the only time I’m well hydrated is when I’m sipping on something with booze in it. That said, I’m also savvy about what I put into my system, and so I’ve ruled out flavoured water almost entirely for its high sugar content. What I want to replace it with should be fruity, fresh, and should occasionally work as a mixer for cocktails for when friends come over.
I stumbled upon aguas frescas when I was reading up on Spanish horchata ages ago, and since then, I’ve been meaning to bottle these and drink all summer long. Steeping is very important here. With lemonade, if you let the lemons sit in the water instead of juicing them, the oil mixes with the water too, giving it a more complex flavour. These get better as they sit too.
None of these beauties will come out of a juicebox picked off a grocery shelf, and you certainly won’t enjoy them as much if they did:
Jamaican Cold-Brewed Hibiscus Tea
Dried hibiscus petals 1/2 cup
Cinnamon stick 1
Ginger a few thin slices
All spice berries 1 tbsp
Cold water 4 cups
Honey 2 tbsp to as much as 6 tbsp, as per taste
Lime juice to serve
Combine the first four ingredients together with 4 cups of cold water and leave to steep in the refrigerator overnight.
Before serving, adjust the sugar and squeeze over the lime juice. Serve.
Lychee-Lemongrass and Coconut Cooler
Lemongrass 1 stalk
Lychees 15-17, deseeded
Coconut Water 1 litre
Kosher salt 1 pinch
Honey or sugar syrup 2 tbsp to as much as 6 tbsp, as per taste
Water 2 cups
Bash the lemongrass stalk to release the flavours and activate it. Bring 2 cups of water to a simmer and add the lemongrass to it. Get it off the heat and let the flavours steep for 15 minutes at least undisturbed.
Meanwhile, in a processor, add the lychees and coconut water and combine. Now add in the lemongrass water in batches, tasting it along the way to adjust it to your need. Add a pinch of salt and for sweetness, stir in honey or simple syrup.
Basil Melon Agua Fresca
Sweet musk melon chopped to yield 7 cups
Lemon juice 1/4 cup, plus two tablespoons
Basil 1/2 cup, leaves picked and torn roughly
Puree the musk melon pieces and pass it through a sieve to get all the juice out. Add the lemon juice and torn basil leaves and leave it to chill for at least an hour for the flavours to blend into one another.