Summertime Guide to Mexican Refreshments
Aguas frescas...paletas...raspados...micheladas. Without these refreshing treats, my summer would feel incomplete. I’m currently fantasizing about having a poolside day, with one or all of these at my fingertips.
Take a drive down Western Avenue to the bright, lime colored façade and you’ll find a local favorite, Paleteria Azteca, a Mexican ice cream shop serving up aguas frescas, paletas, and more.
Aguas frescas, translated as “cool waters”, are refreshing, non-alcoholic drinks perfect for those hot summer months. They’re made from fresh seasonal fruits, nuts, grains, flowers, herbs, or seeds and blended with a little sugar and water.
An aguas frescas called horchata has a creamy almond and cinnamon flavor with notes of sweetness. Horchata is usually made by soaking rice overnight in water, then blending and straining the mixture and mixing it with cinnamon, vanilla, and/or almonds. Paleteria Azteca’s is no different. Each ingredient really pops in this drink without a single flavor becoming overwhelming.
Hibiscus, or agua de flor de Jamaica, is made from soaking hibiscus flowers into a tea and combining that with sugar and other flavors. It’s really refreshing on its own and lends itself nicely to spiking, should you wish for a more adult version.
What really shines in the summer months are the ripe fruit aguas frescas. Mango, pineapple, and strawberry are used as the base for the fun and colorful drinks. These fragrant and fruity refreshments are the perfect solution to the summer heat.
Paletas are a colorful frozen ice pop, delightful to the eyes of children and adults alike. Traditionally, slices of strawberry, mango, or tamarind can be found floating inside. Gourmet options abound such as cookies and cream pops, paletas covered in chocolate and walnuts, or those boasting creamy flakes of coconut. Unlike many store-bought pops, paletas avoid becoming overly sweet. Most have less sugar than typical American stick pops, and they are more nutritious, thanks to the chunks of real fruit and nuts.
The child in me always wants the paletas de fresa: strawberry all the way. The adult in me likes the spicy mango and pineapple flavors. There is such an incredible array of flavors at Paleteria Azteca that it is truly difficult to choose. Making the decision process even more difficult is Azteca’s clear freezer allowing customers to peer down in awe at the assortment of colors and combinations. Perhaps you should bring a cooler and take a few home with you!
> 2415 S Western Avenue, Oklahoma City
Raspados, often shortened to just “raspas”, were my personal favorite as a child. Similar to a sno-cone, raspas contain all the magic of childhood summers. Back home, the raspa stands were always strategically positioned next to parks, especially those with the best swing sets.
A raspa is always properly textured like snow; a good one never contains one of those big hunks of ice that ruins the entire texture and mouth-feel of a sno-cone. Available in individual flavors or as a mix, you can also add a little condensed milk, or occasionally, pieces of fruit. The classic raspado flavors aren’t far off from your sno-cone variety with guava, coconut, piña colada, strawberry, and bubblegum as options to be poured over the perfectly shaved ice.
Chamango is one of my favorite treats and at Raspados Hawaiian, it is available with fresh mangos, shaved ice, and a tamarind candy straw. It’s a mixture of sweet, salty, sour, and a little spice all in one big, delicious cup.
> 4950 N MacArthur Boulevard, Warr Acres or 6041 NW 23rd, Oklahoma City
Michelada or cheladas are for adults only. These refreshments always include a beer or wine cooler mixed with various combinations of fruits, juices, and spices. If you’re looking for a great weekend brunch drink or an afternoon beverage to serve with barbacoa or ceviche, you really can’t go wrong with these.
The most basic michelada is beer, tomato juice, lime, and spices. It needs no justification, but if you just have to have a reason for drinking one, it provides a decent dose of vitamin C. Anyone who gets down with a Bloody Mary would probably enjoy these as well.
A couple years ago, a friend introduced me to Crudoolandia and I’ve paid it forward by treating others to the experience as well. Crudoolandia has three locations in the OKC metro, but only the original has a drive thru! For a first timer, the Chuvi Duvi is a must. It’s a michelada with chunks of icy pineapple, strawberry, and mango in a cup dressed with chile, salt, and that coveted tamarind straw. It’s served with a choice of Smirnoff Ice or beer. Order a couple Chuvi Duvis and Tostada de Ceviches and you’re guaranteed to have a good time!
> 641 SW 29th Street, 944 SW 29th Street, or 4802 N MacArthur Boulevard, Oklahoma City