This unbelievably gorgeous cantaloupe concoction can treat you and yours on a quiet Tuesday evening, or it can be served to guests, be they longtime friends or strangers whose socks you'd like to knock off.
In case you've ever thought sweet, juicy cantaloupe wasn't quite floral enough, you can press the gas here by adding chamomile. But don't worry, you'll never feel like you're drinking a meadow. The dilution of the fruit with club soda, combined with the addition of gently spicy ginger, breezily balances everything out. You'll steep ginger in the chamomile syrup and also blend a smaller quantity of fresh root into the melon puree for a nice, well-rounded effect.
Yeah, there is syrup in here. That might mean this isn't technically an agua fresca, since it breaks the basic formula of fruit + turbinado + water + blender + cold, but it really drinks like one, light and refreshing enough to feel like you (wish you) could knock it back all day long. And while making the chamomile-ginger syrup adds one little step to the process, never doubt that it is absolutely worth it.
And if all that isn't enough, there's also the texture. Leaving the cantaloupe pulp in the drink gives it a really lovely body.
Cantaloupe, Ginger, & Chamomile Sparkling Agua Fresca
yields 1 generous quart
For the chamomile-ginger syrup:
1/4 cup turbinado
1/4 cup water
1 TBSP dried chamomile flowers
2 oz ginger root, sliced
For the fruit puree:
22 oz fresh, ripe cantaloupe, about half of one small-ish melon
1/4 cup lime juice
small piece peeled ginger root, 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide (see Note)
20 oz thoroughly chilled club soda
Begin by making the syrup. Combine turbinado and water in a small pot. Heat over medium heat, and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in chamomile and sliced ginger. Cover pot with a clean kitchen towel and let syrup steep one hour.
Meanwhile, cut the rind away from the cantaloupe flesh and discard. Cut melon into one-inch cubes and add to a large mason jar—you should get two cups. To the jar add lime juice and peeled ginger. Blend thoroughly with an immersion blender (see Note). You should now have a total of 1 1/2 cups puree (if you don't, you may need to add more or less club soda before serving). Chill.
When the syrup is ready, strain and discard solids.
Add cantaloupe puree to serving pitcher along with syrup. Stir well. Add club soda, stir again, and pour over ice. As the agua sits, the pulp will settle. Stir again before pouring if not serving all at once.
Note: immersion blenders with notches for liquid flow will tend to trap any ginger hairs, allowing you to puree the ginger piece without prep (other than peeling). If your immersion blender doesn't have notches that trap these hairs, or if you use a different blending apparatus, you may prefer to finely grate the ginger with a microplane zester before adding it to the cantaloupe and pureeing to avoid hairs in the finished product.