50 Best Recipe of the Month: Mexican aguas frescas by Enrique Olvera

Laura Price - 05/09/2016

Header images: Aguas frescas (Araceli Paz); Enrique Olvera (Ana Lorenzana); reprinted from Mexico from the Inside Out (Phaidon, 2015)

In the land of tequila and mezcal, there’s a refreshing non-alcoholic drink that goes down just as well with juicy tacos and delicious street food snacks all over Mexico.

Ahead of our #50BestTalks: Latin Liquids event, where Pujol chef-owner Enrique Olvera will be talking Mexican drinks, we bring you the recipe for his refreshing aguas frescas from his cookbook Mexico from the Inside Out. Try them out and let us know what you think.


Two Pujol classics: baby corn with chicatana ants, coffee and chile costeno mayonnaise; Mole madre, mole nuevo (Araceli Paz)


The chef: One of the best-known chefs in and outside of Mexico, Enrique Olvera is the restaurateur behind Pujol and neighbourhood favourite Eno in Mexico City and, most recently, Cosme in New York City. Taking popular street food classics and turning them into fine dining masterpieces, he has been hailed as the best chef in Mexico and has served as a mentor for many of the country's most promising young cooks. 

The restaurant: Pujol, opened in 2000, is a discreet, stylish restaurant in the heart of upmarket Polanco where diners are treated to a multi-course tasting menu that includes a series of snacks followed by a choice of items for the next six courses, finishing with the Happy Ending medley of desserts. Highlights include Olvera’s signature Mole madre, mole nuevo, a plate with a perfect circle of fresh mole sauce encased in an outer layer of mole that has been aged for more than 1,000 days.

The cookbook: By Olvera's own admission, this is not a recipe book for novice cooks. Instead, it’s a beautiful coffee table piece featuring stunning pictures of scenes from Mexico City and the chef’s colourful plates. Some of the recipes involve multiple steps, several days of preparation time, complicated techniques and kit you'll struggle to find outside Mexico, but don’t let any of that put you off – it’s a must-have for any Mexican food lover.

Aguas frescas

"The dishes stem from a tireless urge to try delicious, well-made and simple food, such as the esquites, which remind me of the enjoyment of eating on the street; the burrata with salsa verde, which I might offer a good friend; or the aguas frescas, with which I would welcome anyone who steps into my home." – Enrique Olvera, extracted from Mexico from the Inside Out.


Clockwise from left: Aguas frescas; corn in Mexico City; suckling lamb barbacoa taco (Araceli Paz)


Serves 4

Hibiscus and honey agua fresca

1 cup (25g) dried hibiscus flowers
1/3 cup (80ml) honey

Cucumber, ginger and mint agua fresca

1 cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup (70g) peeled and sliced ginger
1/2 cup (20g) mint leaves, sliced


Peel from 1 pineapple
1 large piloncillo or 1 cup (240g) muscovado sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 chile de arbol


Hibiscus and honey agua fresca

Soak the hibiscus flowers in 4 cups (about 1 litre) water for 12 hours. Strain and sweeten with the honey. Serve over ice.

Cucumber, ginger and mint agua fresca

Mix all the ingredients in 4 cups (about 1 litre) water. Serve over ice.


Place all the ingredients and 8 cups (about 2 litres) water in a clay container. Cover and keep at room temperature for 5 days. Blend and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Serve over ice.


Discover Enrique’s take on opening Cosme in New York City, his first restaurant outside Mexico, then read about his protégée and rising star chef, Daniela Soto-Innes.

Want to join us at #50BestTalks: Latin Liquids in Mexico City on Sunday 25th September? Post a picture of your favourite beverage with the hashtag #50BestTalks by Monday 12th September.