Super Fresh: Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

Beat the heat. “Fresh water” fruit drinks are an everyday accompaniment to meals in Mexico. Using local fruits of the season, they make a refreshing sipper to wash away the dry, dusty days. Ours is a little more elaborate, sweetening with an infused simple syrup, topping off with seltzer and adding a fresh garnish. We like to be fancy. Sometimes.

total time: 15 minutes

active prep: 15 minutes

serves: 6

difficulty: easy


For the basil-lime syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

For the agua fresca

  • 1 ripe canteloupe, about 2¾ pounds, cut into 1-inch chunks and chilled
  • 2 cups ice-cold water
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup basil-lime syrup (recipe above)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Ice
  • 1 to 2 cups sparkling water, chilled
  • Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime slices, for garnish (optional)

special equipment

  • blender
  • fine mesh strainer


for the basil-lime syrup

Combine the sugar, water, basil leaves and lime zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let syrup cool completely. Strain.

for the aqua fresca

Working in batches in a blender, puree the cantaloupe with the water, 1/2 cup basil-lime syrup, lime juice and salt until smooth.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. Taste and add up to 1/4 cup additional basil-lime syrup if you’d like it sweeter. Transfer to a pitcher and chill, or serve right away.

Fill 6 glasses with ice. Divide the agua fresca between the glasses and top off with sparkling water. Garnish with basil sprigs and lime slices, if desired.

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