The number one Mexican drink around the world is tequila, but there are also many unique, refreshing, delicious non-alcoholic Mexican drinks as well. These mouth-watering (literally) gems of a drink, are fit for many occasions, people and temperatures! We threw in a few hot and comforting traditional Mexican drinks as well, that will perk up any heart in these times of cold. Tips & recipes for every occasion.
Below we share with you some of the most popular non-alcoholic Mexican beverages.
Non-alcoholic Mexican beverages: a true cultural phenomenon!
The most popular Mexican beverages may have lots (and lots) of alcohol in them, but with gastronomy as varied as the one Mexico boasts, it should come as no surprise that there are many a m a z i n g non-alcoholic Mexican drinks you are probably missing out on, from exotic refreshments to delicious hot treats.
“Aguas frescas”, which literally translates to “fresh waters” are popular flavored water and are sold by street vendors and in restaurants and are made in private homes. Agua frescas quench the thirst and hydrate the body much better than juice or soda, which is why on the hottest days of the year, you’ll find lots of Mexicans walking about with a cup of agua fresca. There’s nothing better than a cold agua fresca on a hot day, I’m telling you. Mocktails are also rising in popularity in Mexico, for those who don’t drink alcohol or are driving. Warm non-alcoholic Mexican drinks are often served during the holidays.
Agua de Horchata
This sweet, comforting (and surprisingly refreshing) drink is one of the most delicious “aguas frescas” in Mexico. Agua de Horchata is particularly popular in southeast Mexico, mainly the states of Veracruz, Tabasco, Quintana Roo (home to Cancun and the Riviera Maya), Yucatán and Campeche.
Different forms of horchata are consumed in West Africa and Spain, and in Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and various Central American countries.
How to Pronounce Horchata
Ok, so we’ve seen some hilarious viral videos of people struggling with the horchata pronunciation. It’s really very simple! The letter “h” is silent, so horchata is pronounced “or-cha-ta” with an emphasis on the middle syllable.
What’s Horchata in English?
There isn’t really a direct translation for horchata, so you can just call it by its Spanish name. The weird thing is, it doesn’t actually have a meaning in Spanish either! It is believed that the horchata drink “style” originated in Africa, and then arrived in what is now Spain, with the Muslim conquest. This is where the actual name of the drink came up, derived from the Latin term hordeata, which in turn comes from hordeum (barley), its original main ingredient.
Over time, and as its use expanded to other parts of the world with different availability of ingredients, barley would be replaced by other ingredients, resulting in different types of horchata. All are drinks of similar appearance that are characterized by their milky white color.
So…what’s Horchata Made of?
The traditional Mexican Horchata is made from rice, some sort of milk and water and flavored with cinnamon and sometimes vanilla, then served chilled. This sweet beverage is a perfect complement for spicy dishes, like the traditional cochinita pibil from Yucatan. Although classic horchata is the most popular, you can buy ready-to-drink versions in the supermarket but if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to try your hand at this homemade horchata recipe. It is easy and so worth it!
How to make homemade horchata, the traditional Mexican style
Ingredients: 2 liters of water, 1 cup of white rice, 4 cinnamon slices, 1 can evaporated milk and 1/2 cup sugar
Soak the rice in boiling water and wait for it to cool.
In a saucepan boil 2 cups of water with 4 cinnamon slices, let cool.
Put in a blender the rice water (with the rice), the cinnamon-infused water and a cinnamon stick. Blend.
Use a fine-mesh strainer to transfer the blend to a large pitcher. Add the condensed milk to taste until desired consistency.
Add 2 to 3 liters more water and stir with sugar to taste. Add ice and serve.
Hibiscus Water (Agua de Jamaica)
Agua de jamaica or hibiscus water is sooo refreshing and one of my favorite non-alcoholic Mexican drinks. It’s exotic red color and slight tanginess make it a great beverage option for the sweltering heat. Agua de jamaica compliments Mexican food, especially tacos, very well.
What is Agua de Jamaica?
Though it may sound exotic, Mexican agua de Jamaica is basically just hibiscus tea served chilled. Hibiscus, as you may know, has its origins in either Africa or India. The hibiscus flower arrived in Mexico over 500 years ago, aboard the Nao de China, a Spanish vessel that crossed the Pacific Ocean from the Philippines to “New Spain” for trading purposes.
It is believed that the first hibiscus plants grown in Mexico were grown in the state of Guerrero, which is one of the world’s foremost hibiscus producers. Even though hibiscus may not be originally from Mexico, it has certainly earned its nationality!
How to Make Jamaica Water
Agua de Jamaica is very easy to make. The dried hibiscus flower petals are simmered in hot water. Then the mixture is strained and sugar (and sometimes lime juice and/or cinnamon) is added. This makes a very concentrated version, which is then combined with more water and ice. Then it’s ready to serve.
Ingredients: 2 cups dehydrated hibiscus flower, 8 cups water, 1 cup sugar, ice to taste.
For the concentrate, heat a pot over medium heat with the water and the hibiscus flowers, and cook covered until the flower is soft. Strain and reserve to cool off.
When you are ready to make your agua de Jamaica, take the concentrate and mix it in a pitcher with the sugar, add ice and serve in glasses.
Cucumber Water Drink (Agua de Pepino)
Agua de Pepino is one of the most popular “aguas de sabor” (flavored waters) or “aguas frescas” in Mexico. Sometimes additional flavors are added, like mint or lime. Other popular aguas frescas include watermelon (sandia), tamarind (tamarindo), strawberry (fresa) and cantaloupe (melon).
How to Make Cucumber Water Drink
Agua de Pepino is very easy to make. Chopped, seeded cucumbers are combined with water, ice cubes, sugar, lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a blender. The mixture is then blended until the sugar dissolves. It should be smooth but slushy.
Benefits of Cucumber Water Drink
Cucumbers offer many health benefits and are easy to add to your diet. They are high in nutrients, low in calories and contain antioxidants. They assist with hydration and can help with weight loss and lowering blood sugar. Cucumbers can also promote regularity.
The margarita is the quintessential Mexican cocktail. There are many different versions of how and when the margarita was created, from bartenders creating it for a showgirl, the daughter of a German ambassador, or Rita Hayworth herself, to it being a Mexican version of an American drink. Another version claims a Dallas socialite created the simple yet intoxicating concoction. A classic margarita is made from tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and triple sec, and is served on the rocks with a salted rim, but if you don’t drink alcohol or are driving, have a non-alcoholic margarita!
Recipe for Virgin Margaritas
There are various versions of the non-alcoholic margarita, but one good option combines fresh orange juice, fresh lime juice, sweet and sour, club soda or sparkling water and simple syrup. Add oranges and limes for garnish. If you’re looking for something with a little more pizazz, try this recipe:
Ingredients: 5 ice cubes (large), 10 strawberries, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 ounce strawberry juice (if you can get your hands on the brand Boing that’s the best), 1 1/2 ounces of lime juice, 2 tablespoons of chile piquín (Mexican chili powder mix with salt).
Put all the ingredients in a blender until the strawberries melt and it becomes a frappe with the ice. Decorate with a slice of strawberry.
Remember when you were little and went to a fancy restaurant and ordered a Shirley Temple? Well, that’s one example of a mocktail! Mocktails are cocktails without the liquor. They often contain juice, soda, different kinds of water and other non-alcoholic ingredients. Non-alcoholic cocktails have recently become very popular and are a great option for those who don’t drink alcohol, are driving, or are “sober curious”.
After the margarita, the paloma is probably the second most popular Mexican cocktail. A traditional paloma is made from tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda or juice. It is served on the rocks with a salted rim. A non-alcoholic paloma can be created with grapefruit soda or juice, agave nectar, fresh lemon juice, and ice.
Although the mojito is a Cuban drink, they are very popular in Mexico. An authentic mojito is made from white rum, club soda, sugar or simple syrup, lime and mint leaves. This cocktail can be transformed into the perfect mocktail just by eliminating the rum.
Mocktails are often called “virgin” drinks. Frequently ordered versions include virgin piña coladas, daiquiris, and sangria.
Warm Non-Alcoholic Mexican Drinks
Cold? There are also some traditional Mexican drinks that will keep you warm on a chilly evening.
Atole is a hot corn and masa-based beverage of Mesoamerican origin. The Mexican version of this ancient drink also contains water, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), cinnamon, vanilla and sometimes fruit. Champurrado is chocolate atole and is popular during Day of the Dead and the Christmas holidays. It is often served with tamales or churros.
A traditional hot drink for the holidays, ponche is made using water, fresh and dried fruits like tamarind, tejocotes (a small yellow fruit that resembles crabapples) and prunes, hibiscus, sugar cane sticks, and cinnamon. It is sweetened with piloncillo. Depending on the region of Mexico, other fruits may be added.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Mmmm… there’s nothing better than hot chocolate on a cold day. Mexican hot chocolate tastes very different than the hot chocolate you may be used to. Chocolate comes from the cacao plant, which is endemic to Mexico. Indigenous groups like the Olmecas, Mayas, and Aztecs used to drink a hot chocolate-like beverage made with dark cacao, spiced with chilies, flavored with flowers and colored with seeds. The modern version consists of melting “chocolate de mesa” or table chocolate, which is made of ground cacao with almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and other spices like vanilla or nutmeg, in milk.
Enjoy the best non-alcoholic Mexican drinks at Isla Mujeres!
Tasting new flavors is such an amazing part of traveling to other countries! As you can see, if you are sober curious, don’t drink alcohol, or you are driving, there are many non-alcoholic Mexican drinks to enjoy. Whether you drink alcohol or not, don’t you agree you deserve to relax on a white-sand beach sipping on a mind-blowingly good drink you’ve just discovered?
With Aquaworld’s Day Trip to Isla Mujeres, you can enjoy an open bar of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks AND a buffet lunch, during a fun-filled day that includes a ferry ride to a tropical island, snorkeling, and free time to spend at the beach or exploring the island, Isla Mujeres. That’s what dreams are made of!