Boozy Agua Fresca is This Summer's Sangria
Sorry, sangria. We have a new favorite fruity daytime drink.
Sorry, sangria. We have a new favorite fruity daytime drink. Agua frescas, the super light and refreshing, lightly sweetened fruit-, herb- or flower-flavored waters often spotted at gyms, in hotel lobbies, in retail stores are now cropping up at cocktail hour. At Outpost in Goleta, California (just outside of Santa Barbara), bar manager Chris Burmeister has made Monday night spiked agua fresca night.
The key to a great boozy agua fresca is, first and foremost, good agua fresca. “You need one hundred percent fresh juice,” Burmeister says. “Never use a concentrate or anything store-bought.” He also recommends making your own sweetener; that way you can customize the sweetness level to your liking or flavor it with things like ginger. “The main idea is to make a lightly sweetened, mostly diluted, flavored water beverage,” he says. “It shouldn’t taste like straight watermelon or straight cucumber. It should hint at those flavors.”
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At Outpost, Burmeister makes complexly flavored but ultra-refreshing (“temperance-style,” he says) agua frescas like the Trail to Nowhere with pisco, watermelon juice, rose water, lemon verbena and passion tea and the Pool Shark with tequila, dry vermouth, jalapeño juice, pineapple juice and agave syrup. But you don’t have to track down rose water or attempt to juice your own jalapeños to make your own spiked agua fresca at home. Here, Burmeister shares two super-easy recipes anyone can throw together.
Whiskey Smash Agua Fresca
Makes 1 pitcher
6 ounces bourbon (Burmeister likes Buffalo Trace)
9 ounces fresh lemon juice
8 ounces simple syrup
2 1/2 cups water
20 mint sprigs
Add mint sprigs to the bottom of a large pitcher and press lightly with a muddler or wooden spoon until they become aromatic. Fill the pitcher halfway with ice, then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir thoroughly and top off with ice. Serve individually in rocks glasses over ice garnished with fresh mint sprigs.
Cobbler Agua Fresca
Makes 1 pitcher
2 packages berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries)
5 ounces gin
8 ounces fresh lime juice
16 ounces water
1. In a large Tupperware, add the berries. Crush them lightly and top with superfine sugar until fully covered. Let sit for 30-40 minutes at room temperature until the mixture has a syrup-like consistency.
2. Transfer the berry mix to a pitcher and add the gin, lime juice and water. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. If you want a chunkier version, keep the berries. For a smoother version, strain out the solids through a fine mesh sieve. Add ice and serve.