Picadas, the first Mexican hard agua fresca, is now available in 200 H-E-B stores across Texas. Made from a family recipe, Picadas combines real fruit juice with alcohol from cane sugar to create a hard agua fresca that embodies the bold, authentic flavors of Mexico.
Picadas was founded in Monterrey, Mexico in 2021 by Hugo Martinez, a local who grew up enjoying homemade aguas frescas with his family. Martinez was pursuing an MBA at Stanford when he became captivated by the ready-to-drink cocktail craze.
“The popularity of hard seltzers was skyrocketing, but I quickly realized that they didn’t have the same flavors I was used to,” said Hugo Martinez, founder of Picadas. “I craved the agua fresca flavors I grew up with – limonada, guava, and mango – that none of the American ready-to-drink options really captured. I realized there was a gap in the market that only a Mexican-made hard agua fresca could fill, because Mexicans never sacrifice flavor. The idea for Picadas was born.”
Following graduation, Martinez returned to his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico and got to work brewing his first batch using a recipe he learned from his grandmother.
“It was my favorite from when I was a kid and is now the base for every agua fresca we make,” Martinez says. “The fruit and flavor varied with what was in season, but the drink always had the perfect balance of sour, sweet, and tang. Plus, the recipe was simple and easy to replicate.”
Martinez spent several weeks recreating the recipe with different Mexican fruits, fruit juices, and types of alcohol. He shared his creations with friends and family, tweaking his ingredients, and methods to incorporate their feedback and indulge their taste buds. The overwhelming response was “más sabor” and “escarcharlo,” — more flavor, and a spicy chile rim to create contrast and depth. In November of 2021, he launched the first batch of Picadas in Monterrey.
The brand’s creative name comes from the term “con piquete,” colloquial Mexican slang meaning “spiked” or “with alcohol.” Hence, aguas frescas with “piquete” would then be called aguas “Picadas” and while it is not a term often used, Martinez hopes that soon “aguas picadas” will be commonly used in the U.S. when referencing hard agua frescas.
Martinez began selling Picadas at mercados and local farmers markets in Monterrey. As the drink gained popularity and word of it began to spread around the country, Martinez formed strategic partnerships that got Picadas into stores like Vinoteca, H-E-B, Soriana, Chedraui, and other Mexican chains. Now, Martinez has partnered with Austin-based Redbud Brands to expand Picadas to its first US market, Texas.
“Investing in Picadas was a no-brainer,” said John Ferrari, partner at Redbud Brands. “We love the product and we believe there is a massive opportunity for Mexican consumer packaged goods in the US.”
Picadas is available in three flavors — limonada, mango, and guava — and all are made with a base of real fruit juice (unlike hard seltzers, which use a base of water). Martinez insisted on using tart key limes for the limonada because “that’s how Mexican limonadas are prepared”, sweet yellow mangos “because those are the mangos we eat in Mexico and floral Mexican guavas to set Picadas apart in the RTD category.
“Glazer’s Beer and Beverage is extremely excited about launching Picadas across our network,” said Mike Gorman of Glazer’s Beer and Beverage. “This emerging segment shows great potential in the years to come.”
Picadas blends its juice in small batches, allowing it to retain a bold, fruit-forward flavor, with no need for artificial additives. The mixture is then sweetened with agave, and cane sugar alcohol is added to make it “piquete.” Every 12-ounce can contains 130 calories and 4.5% alc/vol. Each can is accompanied by an individually-portioned packet of spicy chili salt to place on the rim and enjoy with each sip. Six-packs retail for $10.99 at H-E-Bs throughout the Lone Star State. As the first hard agua fresca to be distributed in Texas, Picadas is positioned to lead the ready-to-drink market in a new direction.
“The opportunity to partner with Picadas will bring great value to the Ben E. Keith portfolio,” said Steve Olkewicz, business development manager at Ben E. Keith Distributing. “Redbud Brands has done a fantastic job of bringing a high-quality agua fresca to compete in one of the fastest growing alcohol beverage categories.”
Picadas loves to have fun, and this belief is made apparent by the brand’s unique packaging. Cartoon-style artwork in eye-catching colors is featured on the boxes and cans, making Picadas an attractive addition to store shelves. The packaging design is also meant to encourage consumers to enjoy every sip, and not take things too seriously.