Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held on May 5 each year. In general, it’s a celebration of all things Mexican. But what you may not realize is that it’s actually a commemoration of Mexico's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
In the U.S., Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexican-American culture. Festivities began in California, where they have been observed since 1863. The holiday gained wider momentum in the 1980s, though. That’s when beer and liquor advertisers started using the holiday to push Mexican beers and spirits.
Here are some surprising statistics about alcohol sales during Cinco de Mayo. Tequila sales account for $2.9 billion U.S. sales annually. And tequila-related beverages average about 14.5 percent of all cocktails consumed. (Think: margaritas!) On and around Cinco de Mayo, though, that average is tripled! Records show that 126 million liters of tequila are consumed on Cinco de Mayo alone.
The beer industry has a foothold on Cinco de Mayo, too. In fact, consumers drink more beer on Cinco de Mayo than any other holiday, including the 4th of July, St. Patrick’s Day, and Superbowl Weekend. In total, $745 million U.S. dollars are spent on light beers and malt liquors during Cinco de Mayo each year. Corona completely blows up the Mexican beer market, obliterating its competition. (Dos Equis is next in line.)
If those statistics haven’t blown your analytical brain, then let these recipes really rock your world! We have picked out some of the very best cocktail recipes for you to try this Cinco de Mayo. Yes, many of them have tequila, but not all of them do! We’ve scrounged up a few recipes that have added some heat to the mix, too. Maybe a dash of jalapeño is just what you need this May!
Mexico is a paradise for spicy food. It’s no wonder—the hot, dry Mexican climate is perfect for the chili pepper. What better way to pay it homage than to liven up your drink with a little heat! We’ve picked out some great choices here.
You will need:
First, prepare your glass. Swipe the grapefruit slice on the rim of the glass to get it wet. Dip the edge of the glass into the salt/cayenne mixture. Now, prepare the cocktail! Add ice to the glass and pour in the tequila and fresh grapefruit juice. Toss in desired jalapeño slices. Go easy if you aren’t sure what heat level your guests want…or can handle! Top with the grapefruit soda. Stir with a long spoon and garnish with a grapefruit slice.
This recipe combines tangy, sweet, and hot in one amazing beverage! You will need:
Cut a notch in the lime wedge and run it along the rim of your cocktail glass to get it wet. Dip the rim into a plate of salt. Next, heat things up! Three to four thin slices of jalapeño will make for a medium-spicy drink. Add more or less if necessary. (For more subtle heat, remove the seeds.) Next, mix up the drink: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the jalapeño, tequila, pineapple juice, Cointreau, and lime juice. Shake hard! Strain the margarita into the salted glass. Garnish with pineapple and jalapeño.
This is sweet and sour, with a little added heat from the chili pepper on the rim. This is an extraordinary drink and a nice change of pace! You will need:
First, fix up the rim of your glass. Wet the rim using a lime slice, then roll the rim in Tajin seasoning. Next, pull out your blender. Fill it with 1 cup of ice (not too much!), tequila, orange liqueur, tamarind nectar, and simple syrup. Blend until it’s smooth. Pour into the prepared glass and garnish with a lime wheel.
This is a variation on a Moscow Mule, except that it uses Korean chili flakes and Korean Soju. It’s definitely not Mexican. But it is a fun twist on the typical tequila-based Cinco de Mayo cocktail! If you love fire, you’ll love this. You will need:
To make the ginger simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan. Add a handful of peeled and sliced fresh ginger. Heat at a low simmer until the sugar melts. Cool, then strain into a squeeze bottle and store in the fridge.
To make the drink, first prepare your glass by running a lime wedge around the rim of a copper mug. Place the gochugaru on a saucer and dip the rim of the glass into the chili flakes. Next, add the soju, yuzu juice, simple syrup, and ginger beer to the mug. Fill with ice and gently stir. Garnish with a lime wheel and the candied ginger skewered on a cocktail spear.
How do you observe Cinco de Mayo? With parades and celebrations for all things Mexico, of course. This includes food, drink, and great Mexican music. You can incorporate the colors of Mexico: green, white, and red. You can tell your Google or Alexa device to “play top billboard songs from Mexico.” Luminaries and piñatas are also great ways to honor Cinco de Mayo.
And naturally, these classic Cinco de Mayo beauties should be on your menu! If you don’t already have a favorite recipe in hand, try one of these:
You will need:
First, salt a cocktail class. Use a lime wedge to wet the rim. Next, in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and a few ice cubes. Shake it hard! Give it a taste and add optional sweetener if needed. Strain into a glass with ice. Garnish with the lime wedge.
Everyone’s favorite! You can make this using red or white wine. This recipe makes an entire pitcher. You will need:
Add apples, oranges, and sugar to a large pitcher and muddle with a wooden spoon for 45 seconds. Next, add the orange juice and brandy, and muddle again for 30 seconds. Add the red or white wine and stir to meld. Taste and adjust the brandy, OJ, and sugar to taste. When ready to serve, use an ice-packed glass, and add an orange wheel to garnish.
You will need:
In a cocktail shaker packed with ice, add the mezcal, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Shake it hard! Strain into a pretty highball glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with an orange wheel.
Want to celebrate by going a little “extra” this year? Here are some excellent, lesser-known cocktails to really stretch your mixing muscles. These are variations on classic drinks like a Bloody Mary or Old Fashioned, done a little bit differently.
This is a spicy Mexican beer and tomato juice cocktail. It’s like a Bloody Mary, but using all Mexican ingredients. You will need:
First, prepare the rim by sprinkling some chili powder or Tajin seasoning and sea salt on a saucer. Use a lime wedge to get the rim of the glass wet, then dip the rim in the chili/salt mix. Set aside. Next, prepare your drink. In a shaker filled with ice, add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, Clamato juice, and the hot sauce. Shake it hard! Strain into a tall glass packed with ice. Top with your Mexican beer. You can mix it up or leave it as is.
This riff on Old Fashioned replaces classic whiskey with tequila. Sound yummy? We think so too! You will need:
Add the tequila, mezcal, agave nectar, and bitters to a highball glass with one large ice cube. Stir gently. Garnish with the orange peel.
This is light and refreshing--very tropical! You will need:
In a cocktail shaker packed with ice, add your tequila, coconut water, Aperol, and agave nectar, and shake it hard! Strain into a glass packed with ice. Top with the soda and Prosecco. Garnish with an orange peel.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with one of these authentically Mexican cocktail recipes.
You don’t need to be Mexican to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. And it’s not cultural appropriation to enjoy some of the cultural elements that make Mexico special! Enjoying food and drink recipes that originate from Mexico and greater Latin America is a way to show that you love and embrace our neighbors. (Try a Mole Poblano.) So this year, lift your glass of sparkly deliciousness and say “Salud!” or “¡Arriba, Abajo, al Centro y pa’ dentro!”