When America thinks of Cinco de Mayo, we think of rambunctious fiesta-like celebrations with plenty to eat, fun sombreros, brightly colored piñatas, and lots and lots of drinking. If you want to enjoy the celebrations without all the alcohol, today is a great opportunity to whip up something new!
The recipes below are just the beginning of the fresh and delicious soft drinks Mexicans—and many of their Central and South American neighbors—enjoy throughout the year when they’re sharing meals, celebrating, or kicking back on a scorching afternoon.
Agua Fresca is a summertime staple for refreshment because of its simplicity and cool slushiness. All you need is fruit (or a vegetable), water (ice), a little bit of lime juice, and a little bit of sugar. That’s it! You can make them in a single flavor or create a combo. Natural ingredients make an Agua Fresca very hydrating in the hot summer sun. This recipe for Aguas Frescas will tell you everything you need to know about ingredients and prep.
Horchata is a cold and refreshing drink that’s ideal with summer meals because of a light and creamy flavor that’s reminiscent of traditional Mexican rice pudding. Horchata is made from pureed rice, whole milk, and water sweetened with sugar and flavored with cinnamon. This recipe for Homemade Horchata takes just 10 minutes to prepare, but you can get really authentic and find a recipe that takes a few hours of prep! You can also pick up an instant horchata mix at your nearby Latin or Mexican grocery store.
Chamoyada (aka Magonada) will give you a frozen kick of tropical fruit flavor. This beloved slushy or smoothie is made from mango, chamoy (a salty/sweet/sour/spicy sauce make with dried chilies), fruit nectar, lime juice, and chili lime seasoning. This easy Mangonada recipe can be adapted to your desired number of servings. You’re also likely to find it served by local Mexican street vendors and ice cream shops.
Atole is just as rich and sweet as hot chocolate but it’s not chocolate at all—it’s corn! Atole is made from a base of masa (nixtamalized ground corn) and milk that’s sweetened with brown sugar and flavored with cinnamon. You can make it from scratch on the stove in few minutes with this recipe for 5-Ingredient Atole, but you can also buy atole mix in nearly any flavor under the sun. The original recipe for this drink (cooked corn grains, water, and maybe a little sugar) goes all the way back to the Aztecs. Drink it instead of coffee after your meal with or without dessert.
If home cooking isn’t your style, dig a little deeper into the soft drink menu when you’re out for Mexican food. It’s so easy to get into the habit of ordering the usual; you may not have even noticed what else is available. Many restaurants offer freshly made recipes like these and bottled soft drinks in fizzy flavors that will definitely be exciting to your palate.