Unexpected, Delicious Drinks You Can Make at Home

by Meg Favreau on 13 September 2012 3 comments
Photo: ijokhio

We frugal types appear to be a drink-obsessed people. We're constantly rambling on and on about lattes, cocktails, and soda, and how much one can save by avoiding these wallet-draining beverages — "Avoid the coffee shop! Don't get a drink with dinner!" we cry.

But we all have our indulgences — drinks we enjoy that we only have when we're out, or that we think are simply too difficult to prepare on our own. The truth is, many of these beverages are inexpensive and easy (or at least fun) to make at home. Here are 10 tasty beverages to try. (See also: 8 Natural Ways to Make Water More Flavorful)

1. Boba Tea

Also known as bubble tea, this drink, originally from Taiwan, features tapioca pearls mixed with some combination of milk, juice, and/or iced tea. The Kitchn has a recipe for how to make boba tea, and you can buy the tapioca pearls inexpensively on Amazon or at Asian markets.

2. Mango Lassi

These sweet mango-yogurt smoothies are a staple at Indian restaurants. When I discovered in high school that I could make them at home, I went on an absolute tear of lassi drinking. Simply Recipes has a lovely mango lassi recipe.

3. Frappuccino

Over at Squakfox, Kerry has a recipe for making a Starbucks-style Frappuccino — for a mere $.32 a serving!

4. Infused Liquor

With their house-infused blood-orange bourbon and lavender simple syrup, the recipes from fancy cocktail bars can seem more than a little intimidating. But most of these precious ingredients are actually quite easy to make. Check out my guide to infusing alcohol, About.com's infused simple syrup recipes, or this Chow's maraschino cherries recipe.

5. Agua Fresca

My favorite fish taco place always has a big, delicious vat of agua fresca on the weekends — last time I went, it was cucumber-spinach. These sweet, refreshing Mexican drinks are super simple to make on your own. Try this basic watermelon or cantaloupe agua fresca, a cucumber-lime-mint agua fresca, or this agua de tamarindo.

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6. Chai

I'm not talking about buying a box of that coffeehouse-mimicing stuff (as delicious as it may be), I'm talking about making your own chai tea from scratch. The Kitchn has a nice chai recipe.

7. Soda

There are several ways to make soda or soda-like drinks, ranging from the fast and healthy (when I was a kid, my mom often served "healthy soda" — a 50/50 mix of orange juice and sparkling water), to concoctions that require fermenting yeast (and, yeah, a heaping helping of sugar). Check out my article on making your own soda for all the details.

8. Espresso

OK, I'm not suggesting that you get a home espresso machine (although if you drink a lot of it, that can be a frugal choice). But a stovetop espresso maker might be just what you need. The coffee isn't exactly the same as coffee shop espresso, but this is an easy and inexpensive way to make a strong brew.

9. Thai Iced Tea and Coffee

Caffeinated, sweet, and oh-so-delicious, I love getting one of these drinks when I go out for Thai food. You can, however, totally make 'em at home. Try this recipe for easy Thai iced coffee or Thai tea.

10. Horchata

Thinking about this tasty, rice-based Mexican beverage always gets that darn Vampire Weekend song stuck in my head. I don't even know the whole song, just the phrase "in December, drinking horchata" because my friend used to sing it over and over. Anyway, deity of all things sweet David Lebovitz has a lovely horchata recipe.

What are your favorite drinks to make at home?

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Guest's picture

Boba tea is so overpriced, $4.50 in my area. All you need to make it is some oolong tea, half and half, tapioca and a ton of sugar.

Guest's picture

I wonder if the homemade boba tea would be as good as the ones you get from smoothie shops. What a good idea for "healthy" soda to give kids, and let them think they're actually drinking soda. Half orange juice half sparkling cider sounds delicious!

Guest's picture

It is just as good, if not better, than the restaurants. Just hold off on the sugar.