Have you ever gone into a Mexican restaurant, market or food stand and saw signs of various beverages for sale like raspados, licuados, agua frescas, and had absolutely no clue what the difference was between all those drinks. Many of you are probably already familiar with the horchata which is a staple in any Mexican food establishment, but there’s a lot more than you may even imagine. So take a look below and hopefully, you’ll be inspired to try something new.
Agua Fresca: An agua fresca is a beverage made with any combination of fruits, flowers, nuts and even vegetables that are blended together with sugar and water. The horchata is an agua fresca. The main ingredient for the horchata which can consist of either ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice or barley gives this drink a milky texture, but in the end, that ground paste needs to be blended with water, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla before it becomes a drink your taste buds would recognize. Examples of agua fresca flavors can run the range from fruit flavors like mango, papaya, watermelon to more tart flavors like pineapple, tamarind and lime. Other options include hibiscus and alfalfa.
Licuado: The licuado is a blend of milk, fresh fruit, juice and sometimes ice. While similar to the American smoothie, there are inherent differences. Mainly, licuados use a milk base with fresh fruit whereas smoothies will start with fruit juice usually in combination with sherbert or yogurt. Also, licuados are known for the addition of nuts, sugar, granola or honey while the same may not be true for the smoothies. An example of a licuado could have ingredients like milk, honey, strawberries, granola and pecans.
Jugo: Simply, a jugo is a beverage made up of juices freshly squeezed from fresh fruit and vegetables. Two popular jugos are the Vampiro and the Dietico. The Vampiro is a mixture of orange, carrot and beet juice and does look “blood red.” With a name like Dietico, this drink’s purpose is obvious. It’s a drink for those who are looking to lose weight and it’s a blend of celery, pineapple, grapefruit and cactus.
Raspasdo: Raspados, which translates to “scraped ice”, literally is ice shaped into a snow cone shape, put mid-way into a cup and than a natural fruit syrup is poured over the ice and and then topped with fruit. A popular raspado is the Diabilito with a tamarind and mango syrup mixture that is topped with chamoy (a spicy-sweet sauce made up of apricots)
Atole: An atole is a cornstarch-based hot beverage that comes in many fruit flavors like guava or strawberry. The chocolate atole is known as champurrado.
Now that you’re armed with a little more knowledge, you may want to check out some of the places below that specifically sell one or more of the various kinds of beverages that I just listed or be sure to keep an eye out for them on the drinks section of the menu of your favorite Mexican restaurant.
4846 Florence Avenue, #101
Bell, CA, 90201
2520 North 16th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006
115 E 8th St
National City, CA 91950