Mexico has a vibrant culture that includes many popular non-alcoholic beverages. Some of the most popular non-alcoholic drinks in Mexico include aguas frescas, licuados, atole, café de olla, and horchata.
What are aguas frescas?
Aguas frescas are refreshing fruit drinks made from fresh fruit, water, and sugar. They are commonly served chilled to provide relief from Mexico’s hot climate. Some popular flavors include tamarind, hibiscus, lime, melon, and rice drinks. Street vendors frequently sell aguas frescas from large barrels or jugs displayed on carts or stands. Their availability makes aguas frescas an integral part of Mexican food culture.
What are some popular agua fresca flavors?
Some of the most popular agua fresca flavors in Mexico include:
- Horchata – Made from rice, cinnamon, and vanilla
- Jamaica – Made from dried hibiscus flowers
- Tamarindo – Made from tamarind
- Limon – Made from limes
- Sandia – Made from watermelon
- Mango – Made from mangoes
Other common flavors are cantaloupe, prickly pear cactus, grapefruit, pineapple, strawberry, peach, and kiwi.
What are licuados?
Licuados are Mexican fruit shakes made by blending fresh fruit with water or milk in a blender. They have a smooth, creamy frozen texture. Common fruits used in licuados include avocado, mango, banana, pineapple, melon, strawberry, papaya, peach, and lime. Condensed milk, sugar, or chocolate syrup are sometimes added for extra sweetness and flavor. Licuados make for tasty, filling treats to beat the Mexican heat.
What is atole?
Atole is a hot corn-based beverage popular in Mexico dating back to pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica. It is made by boiling ground maize with water or milk. Atole has a thick, porridge-like consistency. It can be left plain or flavored with chocolate, fruits, nuts, seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, or chilis. Some versions incorporate masa harina or rice flour as thickeners. Atole is commonly consumed for breakfast, but also as a comforting drink any time of day. It provides a rich source of calories and nutrients essential for health.
What ingredients are used to make atole?
The main ingredients used to make traditional atole include:
- Water or milk – The liquid base
- Dried maize/corn – Ground into a flour to create the thick texture
- Piloncillo or brown sugar – For sweetness
- Cinnamon sticks – For flavor
- Vanilla – Also used to flavor both sweet and savory atole
Additional ingredients can include:
- Fruit purees like strawberry or peach
- Chocolate or cocoa powder
- Shredded coconut
- Pepitas or pumpkin seeds
- Spices like anise seed or guajillo chilies
The flexibility of ingredients makes atole versatile for customized flavors.
What is café de olla?
Café de olla is a traditional Mexican coffee beverage flavored with canela cinnamon sticks and piloncillo unrefined brown sugar. The coffee is prepared by being brought just to a boil with the cinnamon and sugar in an olla clay pot. The olla pot brews a richer coffee flavor and aids in melting the piloncillo. Café de olla has a distinct sweet and spicy taste. A frothy foam also forms on the top as part of the preparation. It is commonly served for breakfast but can be enjoyed any time of day as a comforting drink.
What ingredients are used in café de olla?
The main ingredients used to prepare authentic cafe de olla include:
- Medium roast coffee beans – Coarsely ground before brewing
- Brown piloncillo sugar – Unrefined cane sugar
- Canela cinnamon sticks – Mexican cinnamon imparts distinctive flavor
- Water – Typically brewed with just water, no milk
- An olla de barro – Clay pot used for brewing
Some variations may also add a small amount of Mexican chocolate or orange zest.
What is horchata?
Horchata is a creamy beverage originating from Valencia, Spain that later became popular in former Spanish colonies like Mexico. Mexican horchata is made of rice, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar blended with water. The rice provides a milky, smooth texture. Other nuts or grains like almonds or oats may also be used. Horchata tastes sweet and refreshing with a subtle cinnamon spice. It’s a popular drink to cool down from the heat. Horchata can be enjoyed on its own or as a complement to Mexican food.
How is horchata made?
Horchata is made through a simple process of soaking, blending, straining and sweetening:
- Uncooked white rice is soaked overnight to soften.
- The rice is then drained and blended with water, cinnamon sticks, vanilla and sugar.
- The mixture is strained through a fine mesh to achieve a silky consistency.
- It’s then chilled and served over ice, sometimes with extra cinnamon or vanilla.
Some versions may use almonds, coconut rice, melon seeds or oats in addition to or instead of regular rice depending on regional variations.
Mexico has many refreshing non-alcoholic drinks that are popular due to the country’s hot climate. Aguas frescas, licuados and atole provide sweet fruity flavors. Café de olla offers a sweet and spicy coffee option. Horchata gives a creamy, cinnamon and vanilla taste. These drinks offer the perfect drinks for cooling down and quenching thirst in Mexico’s heat while also providing cultural tradition and sensory delight.