That's why a cucumber lime agua fresca tastes just that much better with a thin line of cayenne around the rim.
And it's also why I'm in love with a drink called the chamango.
The fact that I didn't know it existed until I was a good way into my twenties is a source of much regret.
I mean, think of all the experience it could have augmented! I find myself rewriting history, adding it in where it would have helped the most:
Bodysurfing for the first time, getting my head forced into the sand, swallowing a mouthful of it, plus ocean water, staggering back to my towel and... a chamango waiting for me.
Doing a 10k in the mile-high city, gasping for breath, refreshment tables staffed by smiling, encouraging volunteers holding out little paper cups of... chamango.
What is a chamango? It's a mango smoothie, first and foremost, but then its inventors had a stroke of genius.
"Mango smoothies are already ridiculously, almost unfairly delicious," one must have said to the other, "but how about we add pickled apricot preserves and chili powder? We'll make it real thick and beet-red so that when we pour it over the smoothie, it drips through the cracks and looks like blood, scaring away all but the most dedicated refreshment seekers!"
"Yeah!" said the other one. "And then we'll coat the straw with dried chili powder so just in case anyone ever accidentally makes it unevenly and there isn't enough chamoy in each sip, people's lips will burn anyway!"
And they created the chamango, and they saw that it was good.
(Chamango on left, escamocha on right.)
The preservedness of the apricot and the heat of the chilies makes you thirsty and the mango neatly quenches that thirst, all at once within one stunning sip.
Where to find a chamango in Orange County:
Natural in Anaheim makes a mean one. They crafted the one in the picture!