Drink well, spend less: 5 fresh ideas for summer sips (Watermelon Agua Fresca)

We packed a picnic lunch on Saturday and spread a quilt over the violets and ferns of the forest floor. There were smoked salmon stuffed bagels to enjoy, along with chocolate pots de creme, but it was a bottle of chilled Watermelon Agua Fresca that stole the show.

Whizzed up in the blender with a few ice cubes, it was thrown together just 5 minutes before we left, while my boys pressed their noses against the screen door and inquired when lunch would be ready.

Our blush pink ‘fresh water’ was enjoyed by even the smallest member of the family, who guzzled her watered-down version before anyone else had finished theirs. I take it she approves of both picnics and summer beverages.

watermelon agua fresca and a picnic box

The season for fresh, fruity drinks is upon us, and will last through September, when it is overtaken by pumpkin spice lattes and spiced cider. For now, however, berries, stone fruits and melon flavor our sips, paired with herbs and other aromatics.

Whether we are picnicking with just the five of us or entertaining a group of guests, we’re drinking homemade, non-alcoholic beverages all summer long. We don’t load up our shopping cart with cases of soft drinks or juice boxes, and wine is reserved for special occasions.

Cocktails? Yes, they make a fairly frequent appearance, but this post is about the thirst-quenchers, suitable for the whole family. Okay, except for the iced tea and coffee.

Making agua fresca, iced tea or lemonade is one way we infuse our summer drinks with seasonal flavors and skip the sugar and artificial ingredients contained in most store-bought versions. We also manage to save a little money in the process.

Drink well, spend less? That works. It also happens to fit into our theme for this month’s Eat Well, Spend Less challenge: summer entertaining on a budget. Read on for my 5 fresh ideas for summer sips and a recipe for Watermelon Agua Fresca.

5 fresh ideas for non-alcoholic summer sips

drink cart on simplebites.net

Flavored Water

A simple infusion of your favorite fruit, vegetable or herb is the fastest way to liven up your daily dose of water. Flavored waters also look lovely presented in jugs or drink dispensers for parties. Jan’s created this handy list of her favorite combinations if you are looking for inspiration beyond your own fruit bowl or garden.

Lemongrass, cilantro, and mint? Honeydew melon and cucumber? Yes please.

homemade-ginger-ale-recipe Photo by Shaina

Sparkling Water + Homemade Flavored Syrups

Cola and Crush do not make it onto my grocery list, but I do keep a bottle or two of sparkling water and club soda on hand for homemade sodas. Paired with seasonal syrups, ice cubes and a lime wedge, these drinks rival any summer cocktail. Of course, you can always add a splash of gin, tequila, or your favorite spirit if it’s five-o’clock on a Friday!

cold brewed iced tea

Iced Tea and Coffee

Aside from the infused water above, cold-brewed iced tea or coffee may be the most simple beverage you can make this summer. Literally, “just add water” is all the effort required and the results speak for themselves.

Keep cool and caffeine-fueled with these homemade versions of iced tea and coffee.


A summer classic. My boys make their own with a lemon, a splash of thinned honey syrup I keep on hand, and a top up of filtered water. Look for bruised and battered lemons and limes in the discounted produce section as they will contain the most juice.

watermelon agua fresca on simplebites.net

Agua Fresca

With the literal translation from Spanish meaning ‘fresh water’ you already know agua fresca is going to be refreshing and delicious. We’ve been enjoying a watermelon version (recipe below) but feel free to substitute any melon instead.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

A refreshing summery drink featuring a balance of sweet melon and tart lime. Serve well-stirred, over ice, and garnish with fresh mint if you like.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 69kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 6 cups cubed watermelon about 1/2 a medium melon
  • 2 Tablespoons agave syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice about 2 large limes
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • ice for serving
  • mint sprigs for garnish (optional)


  • Place half of the watermelon in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and liquid. Pour into a fine mesh colander that has been set over a large bowl and filter out the pulp and seeds. Discard the pulp and repeat with second batch of melon cubes.
  • You should have about 4 cups of watermelon juice. Stir in the agave, the lime juice and water. Stir well and taste. Adjust sweetener or acidity as needed.
  • Chill agua fresca until needed. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint or thin slices of lime. Yields 6 cups.


Mama's Tip: reserve a cup or so of the watermelon juice before the other ingredients are added and keep it for baby. Be sure to dilute it with water as it still contains plenty of natural fructose.


Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 182mg | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 865IU | Vitamin C: 15.3mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Be sure to check out what the other ladies are writing about this week on our topic of summer entertaining on a budget. Posts will be added throughout the week.

Do you have a favorite homemade summer sip?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Such great tips and a seriously awesome recipe!! I love this colors and the flavor! I have to give it a try!

  2. A cool and refreshing watermelon and agua fresca would be perfect for hot summer days!

  3. Great tips for summer! Love your spread too! So fun!

  4. This puts me in the mood for summer even more!! Love all of them, Aimee!

  5. Where is your outdoor bar cart from? I’ve been looking for something like that for our patio.

  6. LOVE these summer sips! Thanks for the great ideas!

  7. I’ve been hoping you would post the recipe for your watermelon agua fresca ever since I saw it on instagram. It looks perfect and all these other ideas sound perfect for beachside picnics and backyard playtime.

    Gorgeous pictures!

  8. This sounds amazing! I can’t wait to get some watermelon in our CSA box so I can make this!

  9. Love this! And, this totally reminded me that I’ve been meaning to make my own homemade ginger ale. I had a ginger ale “cocktail” at a restaurant in Washington DC last summer when I was pregnant, and I have been wanting to recreate it ever since. Adding it to my to-do list this week!

  10. What a wonderful picnic! Agua Fresca sounds so refreshing right now. We may have had a longer spring that usual but summer is knocking at our door this week w/ 90 degree temps. wah!

    I always turn to my sweet-tart lemonade recipe during the summer. Just pulled out the citrus juicer this weekend-we are ready to go! 🙂

  11. Great post!

  12. I love everything about this!

  13. what a fun idea!! this would be so refreshing to take on any picnic!!

  14. Aimee,
    I don’t know what I’m craving more, the agua fresca or the smoked salmon bagels! With 2/3 of the household in braces I have to sneak off to satisfy my bagel/lox/cream cheese/caper/red onion cravings, and seeing them in your gorgeous photos got my craving going again.
    I make a peach tea/lemonade combo that’s decaf and low sugar for all of us to enjoy in the summer, but this year I wanted to branch out a bit. For mother’s day I asked for and received a pitcher that holds a fruit/veg infuser in the middle to flavor my water, and I’m looking forward to trying it once our CSA farm share starts back up. In the meantime, you’ve got me eyeing the packages of blueberries and raspberries I put up last summer, considering the possibilities for drinks from them.


  15. I just LOVE picnics! Such an inspiring and smart post.

  16. This picnic looks delicious! I love the watermelon drink recipe as I want to try to bring more large containers of drinks to the beach this summer instead of the usual juice boxes for the kids. They drink them so fast I would rather offering them a refill of water or a special drink in their refillable bottles.

    • Yep, we don’t do juice boxes in the summer at all. We DID invest in Camelbak bottles for each boy, and we keep those filled with ice water or diluted juice.

  17. Violets are my favorite wild flower. How lovely to picnic among them! Unfortunately I haven’t seen any wild ones on the Canadian prairie yet.

    I’ll just have to console myself with this lovely watermelon beverage…

  18. I haven’t made watermelom aqua fresca in ages. Too long. Love all these cooling beverage ideas. Looks like we’re in for a good long summer this year, so there will be plenty of time to give them all a try!

    Bottoms up!

  19. OOO so many tasty drink recipes!!! And what a beautiful picnic, you put mine to shame hehe.

  20. I am loving the watermelon drink recipe 🙂 it sounds so tasty and refreshing!

  21. Oh my goodness, this sounds fantastic! I will making this VERY soon!

  22. I love all of these drink ideas, and the watermelon agua fresca looks incredible! Bring on summer!

  23. Looks incredible…and really refreshing to boot!

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