Mariano Dueñas’ small pamphlet on the modern variety of Mexican refreshment praises the “delicious and nutritive licuado” as the salvation of Mexican health. Apparently he’s not alone, for the entire country has enthusiastically adopted the blender-made concoctions and all the burnished-Formica juice bars that serve them. Life is the better for it, I think, because licuados offer an alternative to overripe fruit in the trash can and too much candy at the snack bar. Made from milk, they are filling (a complete breakfast, says Sr. Dueñas) and much less like soft drinks than the related aguas frescas and licuados de agua that are made with water.
Yield: 1 1/3 to 1½ cups, 1 large serving
1 cup cold milk
1 to 1½ tablespoons sugar, plus more if necessary
3 to 5 ounces (½ to ¾ cup) fruit (banana, cantaloupe, mango, persimmon, papaya, strawberry, watermelon or guava), peeled, hulled, seeded and/or cored, as necessary, and cut into small cubes
1. Blending: Combine all the ingredients in a blender jar and blend until very smooth.
2. Straining: If there are seeds, skins or stringy fibers, strain through a medium-mesh sieve, taste for sweetness and serve in tall glasses.
Polla: Combine ¾ cup milk, ¼ cup rompope (egg liqueur), 1 tablespoon sweet sherry and 1 egg in a blender jar. Blend until frothy and serve.
Licuados with Water: The juice bars also make licuados with water instead of milk; some fruit (like watermelon and pineapple) tastes better that way. Made in large quantities with less fruit and more sugar, they are sold by the street vendors, alongside the horchata and such: In batches, blend 1½ pounds fruit with 1½ quarts water; strain and sweeten, then add a little chopped fruit to float about.
Fruit: Choose ripe fruit with a strong aroma. The quantity needed will vary depending on the fruit’s flavor.
Timing and Advance Preparation
This quick drink is best served shortly after blending.