I have two goals on hot summer days: stay hydrated and eat as much fruit as I can. Agua frescas are the perfect solution to both goals. Lately I've been whipping up these fruit juice blends every week, and so far, this vanilla nectarine version has to be my favorite. It's the drink-child of fresh peach ice cream and takes about two minutes to make.
Agua frescas, literally translating as "fresh waters" from Spanish, are summer drinks popular in street-side stands throughout Central and South America. Traditionally, they are made by blending fresh fruit or seed purée with water, sugar, and sometimes lime, lemon, or herbs.
Most agua frescas are then strained to make a more juice-like, translucent beverage, but some vendors like to include the pulp for a thicker version. This agua fresca can be strained entirely, partly, or not at all. When I make it, I like to add a few extra pieces of nectarine and pulse the blender a few times to make a light and frothy agua fresca studded with bits of whole nectarine.
Combine the nectarines and 1 cup of water in a blender. Purée on high speed until smooth. Strain, if desired, and return the juice to the blender. Add the vanilla extract, sugar, and remaining water, and blend. Serve chilled or over ice.
Agua frescas are traditionally non-alcoholic, but no one will judge if you add a dash or two of bourbon to this one.