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Jul 27, 2007 10:04 AM

Unusual non-alcoholic drinks

Here I am, sipping an horchata from El Pelon (unfortunately more watery and bland than I recall from previous visits) and was wondering if people had suggestions for other unusual non-alcoholic drinks around town. For instance, I had a really tasty Avena (oatmeal milkshake) last week at Camino Real. I also love the mamey shake at El Oriental, Baraka's cherbat, and have tried pretty much everything at Pho Pasteur (e.g. salty plum soda and limeade, all their Trai Cays, etc.), although not recently. Not that big a fan of bubble teas, although maybe I haven't tried the right one.

Any ideas?

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  1. Bubble tea places here can be hit or miss. I don't like the flavored, powder stuff that a lot of places use and to me the bubbles don't add much. If you like tea, and overall and want to give bubble tea another shot, I'd recommend Infusions in Allston if you've never been. One of the few places that really make the stuff out of tea and it tastes so much better. I especially like their Lychee Bubble tea.

    I like the yogurt-based lassis offered in Indian restaurants - mango lassi's in particular. Never tried a salty lassi. There's also a great sugar cane and lime drink at Orinoco (forgot the name).

    Not unusual, but I love Eldo Cakehouse's Lemon Iced Tea. Made fresh and they crush the lemon into the tea in front of you. So refreshing on a hot summer day.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kobuta

      Regarding bubble tea, I agree, the places that use powder are no good. Boston Tea Stop in Harvard is good (get the rose flavor), as is the stall in Porter Exchange (lychee). Both places also offer jelly as an alternative to bubbles - made from pineapple, I think, it's not as chewy and has more of a fruity flavor.

      For non-alcoholic cocktails, Eastern Standard has a few listed on their bar menu that sound good (but I couldn't give you details, I always go for alcohol there).

      1. re: pamalamb

        I really like Taro Bubble tea. Yes its one of the powder flavors no matter where you get it but its really good. To me the rose or lychee flavors , especially the rose taste like soap. Also most place have a mix of powder/not powder flavors depends on the flavors. For instance the cafe under China Pearl in boston,flavors like strawberry, peach, lychess, jackfruit, pineapple are made with real fruit (fresh or canned) while flavors like taro and others are still powders. Not all places make it the same either, that cafe will use a cup of boiling water to desolve the powders before adding them, while others may just dump the powders into your glass. Makes a difference and gets rid of any gritty texture that way.

      2. re: kobuta

        Oh, get yourself a salt lassi sometime. They're so addictive. Ever since trying my first one, I haven't been able to go back to the sweet lassis. Once in a while I am unpleasantly surprised by overzealous salting, but that's pretty rare.

      3. You could try an Acai smoothie at a Brazilian bakery or snack bar. (I had a good one once at Green Field, but heard bad stories afterwards.) I think the Brazilian Bakery on Harvard in Allston serves them, Petiscos can. You can mix Acai with other fruits (strawberry, banana) or get a spoon full of Guarana em Po (an energetic, equivalent to caffeine) for a lift. The frozen pulp is also sold in Brazilian markets/butchers, as are various extracts in your local supermarket, to make at home.

        Some Brazilian bakeries have machines to make a fresh cane juice, depending on supply (usually its frozen cane). Its been a while since I have had one, but Bread & Company in Everett usually has it and the bakery in Union Sq on Bow street that reopened recently used to serve it. (Note Bread & Company has gone slightly downhill in my experience, there is another bakery that is a bit less comprehensive going uphill on Broadway in Everett that I am liking a lot.)

        I have been posting all Summer about markets that have Green Coconuts for coconut water, but recently noticed that Petiscos on Medford St in Somerville is selling cold green coconuts (opeined for you) for $3.50. Not cheap, but not an awful markup vs buying, chilling, and cracking it open yourself.

        Tu y Yo has a nice Agua Fresca de Jamica, as does Taqueria Mexico in Waltham (not quite as good, but better than Jarritos).

        Machu Piccu for Chicha.

        Brazilians in the South drink Mate tea, just like Argentineans and paraguayans, but called ChimarrĂ£o. However, in (largely other parts of ) Brazil they also drink it cold "Mate Gelado"... occasionally made fresh. You can't get the fresh stuff, but you can find Mate Leao in various markets and some of the mentioned bakeries/snack bars.

        Petiscos (Brazilian Snack Bar)
        513 Medford St, Somerville, MA 02145

        Bread & Company
        27 Norwood St, Everett, MA 02149

        Padaria Brasil Bakery
        125 Harvard Ave, Boston, MA 02134

        3 Replies
          1. re: itaunas

            Great list, itaunas. I'm definitely going to try out an acai smoothie. And I drank hot Mate when I lived in Chile a number of years ago - would love to find that Mate Gelado. Is the chicha at Machu Piccu like the chicha (morada) at Rincon Limeno, do you know?

            This is getting slightly general, but I've noticed "chicha" comes in many different forms. Chilean chicha, for instance, is an alcoholic, brown grape drink served in huge glasses - would love to find some of that around here (and this started out as a thread seeking virgin drinks!).

            1. re: Kip McSkipster

              I don't know if the peruvian places have fermented chicha, but chicha morada, a purple corn drink is available at the usual suspects - El Challan, Rincon Limeno, Victor's, Macchu Picchu etc...

          2. I like the chrysanthemum drink at Dok Bua. It's a bit on the sweet side, but has lots of flavor.

            2 Replies
            1. re: hiddenboston

              I feel like I've had chrysanthemum drink in a can (or was it some other flower?) from Super 88. Is Dok Bua's fresh (is it ever served freshly made)?

              1. re: Kip McSkipster

                I guessing that it wasn't fresh, but I've never had chrysanthemum of any kind before, so I probably wouldn't be able to tell fresh from being in a can. It was good, though (went well with both my pastry puffs and curry noodles!).

            2. Scarlet Robe, a very rare oolong, from the original tea bushes, at the Park Plaza Hotel. Incredible flavour -- stone fruit, woods, and the distinctive (but subtle) oolong smokiness.

              1. How about a nice shot of wheatgrass juice from the Other Side Cosmic Cafe? It's an acquired taste (which I myself have not acquired), but allegedly quite good for you, like eating a couple of pounds of vegetables worth of nutrients in a single gulp. A little too reminiscent of fine lawn grass clippings for my taste, but it is unusual and non-alcoholic.

                Do cold soups count? I've had some amuses at some places (Clio? Arrows? can't recall) that were essentially tomato water with a sliver or two of fresh herbs, very nice.

                I've always liked bori cha, the tea made from roasted barley, served at Korean places. I've only had it served hot, but am guessing the traditional summer preparation, served cold, would be very refreshing.

                2 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  I'll second the wheatgrass juice at Other Side and also suggest the same drink at the Trident Bookstore and Cafe. Both places have lots of fresh squeezed juice combos, smoothies, and the like which are very good.

                  Also, the Baraka Cafe makes an iced tea with rose petals. I very much liked it when I tried it, though there's another recent thread here with folks who find it a little too much like potpourri for their tastes.

                  1. re: bachslunch

                    Love tomato water with a pinch of salt and some basil. I have no idea where one would buy that though. I make it at home.