Everyone loves a good cerveza, sangria, or margarita to accompany a tasty Mexican-inspired menu. But what about when you’re serving kids, non-drinkers, or you just want a refreshing virgin beverage? A Quinceanera (girl’s ultra-important fifteenth birthday party) or a brunch deserves exciting drinks, too. You can ask your event catering team to add these to your existing event menu ideas.
TIP: These are all best served cold over ice, as a refreshing way to get relief from the hot Mexican climate.
Horchata (pronounced or-CHAH-tah): An almost milky Mexican drink made with rice. Recipes vary depending on the region, but traditionally it is flavored with cinnamon and lightly sweetened with sugar. Some add a bit of vanilla. The rice, along with the occasional addition of peanuts, almonds, or cashews, is ground and mixed with water to make the base.
Fun History Lesson Alert: You won’t just see horchata in Mexico, variations exist across the Spanish-speaking world. This stems from the original horchata de chufa that ancient Spain borrowed from an Egyptian recipe. When Spanish conquistadores brought the drink to Mexico, natives replaced the foreign chufa nut in the recipe with their beloved native rice.
Agua de Jamaica: No, it’s not from the Jamaican island! Literally translated as “hibiscus water”, agua de jamaica is a kind of agua fresca, a watered down drink infused with fresh-pulped fruit. This particular agua is made by steeping hibiscus flowers, diluting the concentrate with water, and then sweetening it with sugar. Sour-sweet and super refreshing, this is a typical agua fresca that would accompany a mid-day meal in Mexico.
Watermelon/Strawberry Juice: More aguas frescas! These “fresh waters” or fresh juices are prepared similar to the Agua de Jamaica, but replacing hibiscus blossoms with watery, pulpy fruits. Watermelon and strawberry are very common options to make into aguas frescas due to their high water content. They’re easy to mush into a nice concentrate!
Tamarind: This is one you won’t have seen as much in the United States, but don’t be afraid to stray from the familiar for your event menu ideas. Tamarinds are a pod-shaped pulpy fruit from the tamarind tree. It’s native to Asia and parts of Northern Africa, but picked up popularity as another agua fresca-esqe option in Mexico. You remove the seeds and then scoop the pulp from its pod, mixing the pulp thoroughly with water. The taste of tamarind is described as being pretty astringent, almost like a lemon, so a little added sugar will sweeten the deal. Try this instead of lemonade at your next taco party or barbecue.
Keep in mind that your hired catering crew is an excellent source of further suggestions for pairing drinks with your chosen Mexican dishes. They may even have their own signature creations and event menu ideas. Mexican food and flavors are so inspiring, the culinary industry is always finding new ways to mix them up. Try out these basics and add your own twists.