20th Apr2012

Agua Fresca Cocktails and Booze Free Drinks

by David Edessa

Written by David Edessa

Growing up in California I remember summers playing ball tag with the neighborhood kids and my mother having a pitcher of cold Agua Fresca (fresh fruit drinks, tea infused and other non-alcoholic flavored coolers).

Agua Fresca is excellent by itself or as a mixer for a cocktail.


Hibiscus (Jamaica) Agua Fresca


  • 1 ⅓ cups hibiscus flowers
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups organic apple juice
  • 4 cups cold water


First off, pick out a pot or pitcher that will not stain. Hibiscus has the potential to stain just about anything it comes in contact with (keep this in mind).


Peel fresh mint leaves without stems. In a large heatproof container combine flower, mint leaves, and boiling water; steep for one hour in room temperature and then add mint in the last 20 minutes. Place a lid over the container during process, stirring once or twice along the way to break down ingredients. Discard flowers and mint using a sieve (repeat straining twice). Add all apple juice and cold water; refrigerate until cold. Taste and adjust based on your personal preference. You can add a bit more sugar if you think you need it or more water if you feel like the Jamaica is too overpowering. Fill glasses with ice; pour agua fresca over and serve and garnish with a lime wheel. Can be made 2 to 3 days ahead of time (recommended).


If you need to make Agua Fresca or cocktail sweeter, utilize following sweetener.

Honey Lemon Zest Syrup:


  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup Honey
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon (1 tbsp. min.)


Have a good glass jar that you can seal and can add hot liquids to. Heat water until boiling, remove from heat and whisk syrup and lemon zest, until mix is dissolved. Then, while the sugar is still very hot (but no longer boiling–let it cool) use a spoon to swirl the ingredients around a bit. Be careful as that jar is going to be very hot. Once it’s cool enough to touch, seal the jar and leave it at room temperature for 12 – 24 hours. After that, pour through a metal strainer and refrigerate (never use warm in a cold drink). Should last at least 3 – 6 months refrigerated.


Hibiscus Peach Smash


  • 1 ¼ oz. Citrus Vodka
  • ¾ oz. Peach schnapps
  • Splash fresh orange juice (½oz)
  • Sprite
  • Fill with Hibiscus Aqua Fresca (recipes above)


In a tall glass, fill with ice; add liquids, shake, and serve. Garnish with an orange twist.


Cranberry-Mint Fresca


  • 1 liter organic cranberry juice
  • 10 oz. unsweetened organic pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup mint leaves (without stems)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 16 oz. Ginger Ale


Combine mint, cranberry juice, pineapple & lemon juice in a large jug. Add ginger ale to punch and stir when ready to serve.


Cranberry Crooner


  • 1 ½ oz. White Rhum
  • ½ oz. Grand Marnier
  • Fill with Cranberry-Mint Fresca


In a tall glass, fill with ice; add liquids, shake, and serve. Garnish with a mint leaf.



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David Edessa

David Edessa

David Edessa spent over twenty years managing night clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, and after hour clubs. He has traveled and operated in major markets like Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas, playing a major role in launching and managing restaurants. David has served as a consultant for California fine dining restaurants as well as for premier entertainment venues in Orange County, California. David has a knack for selecting the perfect taste and flavor combinations for both food and drink. He honed his skills on the culinary aspect of mixology and recipes development, with an understanding and appreciation of the liquors, beers, and wines of the world.

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