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Hot Weather Recipes: Honeydew Mint Agua Fresca

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Most of us know the glory of agua frescas by now, but did you know how simple they are to make at home? We just concocted one using the super-seasonal and ultra-sweet honeydew melon from the farmers market along with some fresh mint and zesty fresh lime juice. And boy did it turn out a treat.

You could just chuck all the ingredients into a blender and your agua fresca, or "fresh water" as it translates to in English, an it would be just fine. But to make a more polished sip we offer up a few tips.

First, make sure to strain the pulpy fruit after blending to make a clearer liquid. We blended our honeydew and lime juice in a Vitamix and then strained it with the same mesh bag we use to make almond milk. Cheesecloth or a fine strainer should work just fine too. The idea is to eliminate that thick consistency. It's not a smoothie; it's meant to be like water. Hence the name. Get it?

Second, we suggest upping the ante by combining the water and sugar part of agua fresca with some fresh herbs and steeping, sort of like a diluted simple syrup. This adds another flavor dimension without compromising the texture. Again, you could just throw your mint into the blender. But the flavor and aesthetic would be more chunky. You're stuck inside. Might as well make your drink pretty.

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Finally, when it comes to garnishing, we like to use a trick bartender Brian Stewart of Petit Hermitage once taught us. Smack your mint before using it as a garnish instead of muddling it. You're not doing this just to show off that you like a little tough love; it actually opens up your herbs without bruising them. So when you garnish your agua fresca, keep that little tip in mind. (He'd probably smack me if he saw the janky ice cubes I was using for this drink, but no matter.)

The talk of muddling and garnishes brings us to a little (but oh-so-important) afterthought, which is of course that this drink (and all agua frescas for that matter) would be excellent spiked with little bit of tequila or even some gin. But it's also great virgin, and can be kept in the fridge over night so that you can pack it for a cool sip around mid-day tomorrow. The heat's not letting up anytime soon.

Here's how it's done:

Honeydew Mint Agua Fresca

Ingredients:

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1 large honeydew melon, seeded
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 limes, juiced

Method:

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, mint, and water. Simmer over low heat until sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat and continue to steep.

While mixture cools, scoop out honeydew flesh into the blender. Juice the limes into the blender as well. Puree and pour through a fine sieve to eliminate pulp.

In a pitcher, mix strained fruit puree with water and fresh ice cubes. Pour into a glass and garnish with fresh mint or a wedge of lime and enjoy.