By everything, we mean sweet, sour, savory, icy and tropical
Just like our favorite agave-based spirit, the chamango is a beverage born in Mexico, inspired by a food cart delicacy combining fresh fruit and spicy sauce. This bright, icy cup of deliciousness has made the trip to the U.S. and onto Instagram feeds everywhere.
Chamangos have been growing in popularity anywhere you find a thriving Mexican food culture. This naturally means Southwest regions like Texas, California and Arizona. But the word and the recipes are spreading quickly. You’ll find these refreshers offered in nearly every state if you know where to look. They’re just too pretty—and tasty—to keep a secret.
Let’s Break It Down: What Exactly Is a Chamango?
A chamango is made of two basic ingredients—mangos and Chamoy sauce (hence the name). It can resemble a cup of mango slices and sauce or look more like an icy smoothie or a creamy sorbet. Chamangos can also be called mangonadas or chamoyadas, depending on region or the maker. No matter what the name or the form, this sweet, spicy and chilled Mexican fruit drink is the perfect cure for the summer heat.
Introducing Chamoy Sauce (you’ll thank us later)
We can all agree mangos are one of nature’s most perfect creations (move over apples). But you really haven’t lived until you’ve tasted sweet, ripe mango with a slathering of Chamoy sauce. Chamoy is a savory condiment made from pickled stone fruits like apricots, plums or mangos with a kick of chili and other spices. It resembles Sriracha sauce in color and texture, but with less heat. Chamoy sauce is salty, sweet, sour and a little spicy—almost the definition of umami. It takes the flavor of mangos to another planet altogether.
You can find Chamoy sauce in any grocery store with a robust Mexican or international food game (hint: it’s typically near the hot sauce section). It also comes as a paste, but the sauce is best for making chamangos. Its complex flavor is so useful you can add it to your favorite salsa or use it as a marinade or topping for meats, fish and vegetables. Think of it as chutney with a Mexican accent.
How to Chamango
Now that we are familiar with the basic ingredients of mango and Chamoy sauce, here’s how to put them together. Pro tip: be sure to have your phone or camera ready—there’s almost no drink as picture-perfect as a chamango.
The first step, after gathering your ingredients (and your camera), is to prepare the glass by drizzling Chamoy down the sides (be sure to use a good size glass). You may also choose to rim the glass with salt or Tajín, a zesty Mexican chili-lime seasoning used on fruit.
To make a chamango, place mango chunks (fresh or frozen) and a handful of ice into a blender and give it a good whir. Once the mixture becomes smooth and slushy, pour it into your prepared glass.
You can now top the drink with more mango slices, a sprinkle of that Tajín or an extra drizzle of Chamoy sauce. You’ll probably want to serve this with a long-handled spoon for digging out the extra fruit.
One final, but essential touch for an authentic Mexican chamango is to add a Tirolo straw—a drinking straw wrapped with soft, chewy tamarind candy. Aside from its conversation value, this uniquely Mexican garnish flavors and sweetens the drink as the tamarind candy steeps into the mango puree. The chewy texture of the tamarind contrasts nicely with the smooth texture of the drink and bites of mango.
You can wrap tamarind candy around a straw yourself, but you can also find premade tamarind straws at Mexican grocery stores or online. It’s not the most critical ingredient, but it sure does round out the full glory of a chamango.
Make it Authentic but Make it Yours
There are countless ways to chamango. You’ll find online recipes that suggest using puréed mango, bottled mango smoothies or mango sorbet for a richer, smoother texture.
You can also try a chamango snow cone, or raspado, as it’s called in certain areas: a mound of crushed ice topped with mango chunks and a drizzle of Chamoy sauce.
And the combos don’t stop there. Some chamangos are made by layering mango chunks and Chamoy with other fruit-flavored sorbets, like lemon, lime or orange for a parfait with a citrusy kick. Other recipes use the bitterness of grapefruit juice or soda to add yet another flavor cue. Even chopped or puréed cucumber can be added for maximum cooling effect. And if you’re a Bloody Mary fan, try a dose of chili powder for a savory hit of spice.
Here are a few other winning flavors to add: watermelon, fruit-flavored candies, apples, pineapple, coconut, vanilla ice cream…as long as you don’t miss out on the key ingredients, the possibilities are endlessly delicious.
Take Your Chamango to the Next Level
And now, for our favorite and arguably most important way to customize a chamango. Add tequila.
As a traditional Mexican spirit, tequila is the sophisticated way to give your chamango a little something extra. We recommend Exotico Reposado Tequila for its mellow blend of vanilla, dried fruit and spices that complements the Chamoy sauce perfectly. Of course, you can just pour some tequila right into your chamango combo or blend it with fresh mangoes or sorbet.
But to take full advantage of Exotico’s unique flavor, we recommend this easy Chamango Margarita recipe.
- 2 oz. Exotico® Reposado Tequila
- ½ oz. Chamoy Sauce or Paste
- ½ oz. Real Mango Purée
- ½ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
- 2 oz. Grapefruit Soda
- Combine first four ingredients in a shaker with ice.
- Shake until well blended.
- Add grapefruit soda, flip the shaker once and pour into a rocks glass.
- Garnish with a tamarind-wrapped straw.
And that’s all there is to it. You’re now a chamango expert! Share your chamangos on Instagram by using the hashtag #ExoticoChamango. We can’t wait to see your creations.