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1 c
granulated sugar
packet unsweetened Kool-Aid mix (cherry, grape, lemon-lime, etc.)
5 lb
ice (see instruction below)

If you take a trip to northern Brooklyn in the summer—or anywhere else with a large Puerto Rican population––chances are, you’ll run into the piragua man. Piragua, or “water pyramid,” is a shaved ice rooted in traditional Puerto Rican street food consisting of three simple ingredients: water, sugar, and fruit-flavored syrup. I find a $0.30 packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid gives the perfect artificial flavoring, while the ice acts as its chilly vessel. 

10-12 servings

For the cherry syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup room-temperature water.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and gently stir with a heatproof spatula until the sugar is fully dissolved, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the unsweetened cherry Kool-Aid packet to the sugar mixture and whisk until fully dissolved and cooled. Remove from heat.
  4. Allow the cherry syrup to cool completely, pour into a squeeze bottle or jar, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. This mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3–4 weeks.
For the ice:
  1. Working in batches, place 1/3 of the ice in a durable plastic zip-top bag and cover with a kitchen towel. Crush the ice with a rolling pin or blunt kitchen tool to break the ice into smaller pieces.
  2. Place half the ice in a food processor (or blender, in a pinch) and grind until granular—the consistency of fresh snow. Repeat with the remaining crushed ice.
  3. Use the ice immediately or store it in a freezer-safe zip top-bag for up to a day.
  1. Fill a small cup 2/3 of the way full with ice and add a generous amount of cherry syrup, about 4 tablespoons.
  2. Add an additional bunch of ice to the top, then an additional tablespoon of cherry syrup, and enjoy immediately.
  3. Optional: Take a small funnel and shape the top of the ice to achieve a cone-like appearance right before adding the last tablespoon of syrup.