Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Lately, I find myself drawn to slightly savory drinks. Perhaps it’s my aging palate, but my days of sipping cloyingly sweet lemonade or comparable fruit-laden drinks are long behind me. On the rare occasion I escape my two kids to socialize with other adults at a local cocktail bar, my drinks of choice are often spiked with smoky mezcal or peaty whisky and muddled with a generous amount of potent woodsy herbs to drive home that savory kick.

My love of slightly savory drinks has now moved beyond the occasional cocktail and has inspired my hydration routine. In this infused water, the combination of tart plums, woodsy thyme, and a kick of spice from a fresh chile creates a drink that is intentional in its balanced savoriness. The earthy aroma of the thyme and sharp acidity of the plums hits you with the first gulp, but these flavors mellow sip after sip, giving way to the delicate floral notes of the plum and the gentle heat of the chile, which builds slowly while drinking. It makes for a fun and exciting way to stay hydrated that is a welcome change from drinking plain water.

For this recipe, I used the infusion technique I established in my cucumber water recipe, where I muddle and steep the flavoring ingredients with a portion of the water for 30 minutes to one hour before straining and discarding the solids, and topping off with the remaining water before serving. I thinly slice the plums and chiles for mashing, which maximizes surface area while still leaving the pieces large enough to make targeting them with the muddler easy.

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

A few delicate slices of plum and fresh chile with a thyme sprig or two is both beautiful and adds a pop of fresh flavor back into the water right before serving. This jewel-toned infused water packs a bit of a punch, but sometimes that’s the motivation I need to stay hydrated.

In a large bowl or 8-cup liquid measuring cup, combine 1 cup water (236ml), 2/3 of the sliced plums, thyme, and half of the sliced chile. Using a potato masher or muddler, mash plum mixture until broken down and all juice is expressed from plums, about 1 minute.

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Stir in 3 cups (710ml) water. Refrigerate covered until flavors meld and mixture is chilled, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Strain infused water through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large serving pitcher, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard solids.

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Stir in remaining 4 cups (945ml) water. Just before serving, garnish pitcher or individual glasses with remaining plum slices, additional  thyme sprigs and remaining half of the sliced chile. Serve over ice.

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez


Other stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, or apricots may be substituted for the plums.

Adjust the fresh chile amount to your preferred spice level, or omit completely.

Feel free to adjust the amount and cutting technique of the ingredients used as the final garnish in the water. This is your opportunity to be creative and add your personal touch.

For a fun final garnish, serve with decorative ice cubes filled with small pieces of fresh produce or herbs frozen in the center.

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