Refreshing drinks (non-alcoholic)

I thought @lafoodie had some interesting points in this post with regards to being overwhelmed and eating well when you’re strapped for cash and experience. In particular, I resonated with their comment about wanting to discover more refreshing drinks. It’s kind of odd that in such a large, balmy city with such a diverse population, non-alcoholic drinks are so uncelebrated.

It’s understandable not highlighting drink over food in a restaurant but there are plenty of places specializing in non-alcoholic drinks even before cold pressed juice craze from a few years back. Even further confusing, bar programs frequently ARE given a nod within a restaurant review for a good wine list or dedication to mixology. And yet, even in recognized bar programs the non-alcoholic options are often overlooked as with Apotheke or Otium.

I mean, I’m not a complete idiot… I understand that food and booze in restaurants always have and always will have precedence for a lot of practical reasons but there’s nothing we don’t chivy out the nth degree in this forum, why not this? In a town like this where people abstain from drinking for all kinds of reasons we probably owe it ourselves to have as many “refreshing drink” threads as we do for good 'ol booze, right?

As expected, FTCers already deliver in specific instances, whether that’s a dedicated sugar cane thread and shout-outs to particularly notable aguas frescas, coconut drinks, Vietnamese coffee, etc. Still, in a world where water alone comes in all types of minerality, carbonation, temperature, etc. you’d think we’d be shouting our favorite bebidas from the rooftops. So with that, any thoughts? Recommendations? Cross links?


To kick it off, an RIP section: Shout out to Baroo’s tepache and Andy Ricker’s drinking vinegars. At least Ricker’s shrub-like drinks are still available elsewhere (as is the pandan water available in at least one location we visited).

I like that Apotheke has non-alcoholic options but they didn’t strike me as particularly memorable compared to their other drinks. Salazar’s agua frescas were pretty solid but a touch sweet (maybe because the readily available spiked option balances out the sugar…?).

My go-to is probably Jugos Azteca for a frosty watermelon drink next to their breakfast burrito but I’m always open to recommendations.

Thanks for this endorsement, this is on my list now!

Also, on the list is Ashtala (now called Juice Barrel?) If anybody’s tried it, please report back:

Sorry for the long posts, over to you folks!


Not LA, but the Pina-Melon agua fresca at Puesto in La Jolla is basically perfect.

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Granted it’s been a while since I explored Slauson tracks and East LA/Boyle Heights but in OC there was a good handful of tepache/tejuino stands.

If Ricky’s is still doing it, I absolutely love his Horchata, at $1 (Silver Lake truck “parked” by Vons and that Intersection from Hell), it was the best damn deal in LA and best damn horchata. Guelaguetza makes a very good one as well (I like the mole coloradito the best fyi).

I love Spinach and Pineapple Agua Fresca, available at most major Mexican supermarkets and at those juice/torta places.

One of my favorite drinks when I was kid in the summertime in SGV, was watermelon juice.

In Little Saigon, definitely try Cococane and Phin Smith’s Cafe Sua Da

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HA! I love drinks of all kinds… here are my current faves…

– Horchata at Taqueria Los Anaya
– Black Sesame Boba at Boba Guys
– Stockholm Fog Chai at The Boy and the Bear
– Whao-Chata Milk Tea at Dingleberries
– Light Oolong Tea with Fresh Milk at Pot of Cha
– Lemon Honey Tea at Ignacious Cafe
– Yuzu Honey Green Tea at Honey Mee
– Honey Green Tea HontesTea at the Pepperdine Playa District Student Store.

RIP Flautas at BHC Mall that was always a great stop for legit Agua Frescas. The Agua Fresca stand at the Culver City Mall is just sugar water…

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Yes! One of my favorite lunches is the Costillas Combo plate with Spinach and Pina agua fresca at Northgate Culver City.

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The agua frescas at Chichen Itza and Holbox are delightful. Our out-of-town guests went in for a horchata there…their first real horchata ever and they LOVED it. I like the sparkling lemonade over at Holbox…so refreshing.
On the regular, I hit up Northgate for their agua frescas (pinapple is my favorite). Sometimes, I’ll pick a few and use them for party cocktails.

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I might have a few of their agua fresca “canteens” in my cabinets… :joy:

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I don’t know what to do with them. They say I can’t take them back to recycle or reuse them.

I use them carry soups. rice, salads, and gravy places… They seal up pretty well with the screw top. So if you don’t have a baller Zojirushi to take to Sergios… :wink:

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As of now, they can’t refuse your request to refill them.

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Diet Coke

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milk tea from hong kong cafe


Brings to mind a meal at Craft in Century City. My friend asked if they had lemonade, and the waiter very quickly said no. Then, as he was walking away, he stopped and came back to us. “The bartender has water, sugar and lemons. Yes, we can make you a lemonade.” He came back a bit later with the lemonade, and my friend said it was excellent. Not insanely expensive either. I love the service at Craft anyway, but this seemed to be a particularly good example of hospitality.


That is great service! Not that this was your friend’s motivation but it brings to mind the scene in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” where the (sober) Russell Brand character orders a cranberry juice with a squeeze of lime.

That scene stuck out to me because I’d never heard anyone order a virgin drink like that (besides water with lemon or an Arnold Palmer) and it struck me that in a world that caters to drinkers it could be helpful for a recovering alcoholic to also have a “signature drink” that’s more than just plain water.

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When I bartended I made so many Todd Flanders for people. Especially for dessert. One of my favorite creations.

Add some brown liquor to a Todd Flanders and it becomes a Hot Toddy!

I like this thread. My dad doesn’t drink and always gets excited when a restaurant has thoughtful non-alc options.

FWIW I’ve noticed many drink menus these days have a ‘mocktail’ section.

Btw check out

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Aww damn I forgot about that!

The best HK Milk Tea in SGV. I also like Cafe Dulce’s HK Milk Tea in Little Tokyo.

Also the Iced Lemon Tea at Savoy is really nice. Use the spoon to smash the lemons so the pulp gets into the tea and adjust the sweetness to your liking with the simple syrup.

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That’s an In N Out hack btw since they have lemons, water, and sugar out in the open!

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now i gotta try it