Cinco de Mayo is an interesting holiday. While it commemorates a battle that was fought in Mexico, Mexico doesn’t celebrate it. And what’s even more perplexing is that outside of Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is often confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is actually on September 16. For those of you interested in the origins of this crazy fiesta day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Batalla de Puebla fought on May 5, 1862 in which the small town of Puebla defeated invading French troops.
So, why is Cinco de Mayo such a big deal north of the border? The origins of its celebration began in California in 1863 as a symbol of solidarity with Mexico against France. And, Americans being Americans, we love having a reason to celebrate.
Let’s continue our Cinco De Mayo festivities at home! IZO Agave Spirits shares their famous MargarIZO recipe with a few simple ingredients!
Classic, Tart, Subtly Smoky
2oz. IZO Mezcal 1 Lime, Juiced 1/2 oz. Triple Sec
Salt the rim, garnish with lime.
Spice up Your Space and Your Energy
Prep your home with the red, white and green colors of the Mexican flag using bandanas, towels, streamers or anything you might have on hand. Involve the kids in making a colorful piñata that you can fill with candy or small toys. If you have some balloons, any colors will work!
Set the mood with an all-day Instagram fiesta put on by Solmar Hotels & Resorts @Solmarhotelsandresorts. Through a series of IG stories dubbed “An Ode to the Avocado,” you’ll get the intel for making avocado-inspired facials and typical Mexican recipes and cocktails where avocados are king.
Add an educational dimension to the fiesta with a free online cooking class. TakeLessons TV will show you how to cook a lime chicken taco bowl with sweet corn and avocado salsa. You’ll also mix up a pineapple-mint agua fresca drink.
You’ll need a soundtrack for the evening, and Spotify has some great Cinco de Mayo playlists. I especially like the one put together by sassyshannah — it will keep you rocking into the wee hours — as well as listanauta’s compilation of traditional Mexican tunes.
Visit Your Favorite Bar Virtually or Bring a Restaurant Home and Support the Hospitality Industry
If a bar date on Cinco de Mayo is more your speed, Virtual Cheers invites you to create your “night in” while also supporting the hospitality industry. By downloading a Zoom background from your favorite watering hole, you “purchase a round,” with all proceeds going to employee relief efforts. In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, Latin-American bar Leyenda offers a paloma, a refreshing tequila cocktail with a grapefruit-flavored soda mixer.
Tanteo Tequila + The Wayland’s “Party in Place” will deliver a margarita party package in NYC in concert with cocktail-caterer Cocktails in Motion, keeping you safe at home while also benefiting hospitality workers via The LEE Initiative.
Show your support to local restaurants offering to bring the fiesta to you. The East End’s Bistro Ete and K Pasa will put together a takeout package covering the entire Cinco de Mayo celebration from margaritas to dessert.
A Stay-at-Home Trip to Margaritaville
No Cinco de Mayo celebration would be complete with some sort of margarita.
There are many traditional margarita recipes using either fresh limes or Rose’s lime juice. I’ve listed some of the ones devised by mixologists at hotels and restaurants that go beyond tradition to inspire you to invent your own new favorites with ingredients that won’t be impossible to find.
You can also opt for a pre-made margarita mix like Lt Blender’s Margarita in a Bag. Just add tequila and Triple Sec or Cointreau and freeze the entire bag to make a slushy margarita.
PATRON offers a twist using coconut and cucumber:
1.5 oz.PATRÓN Silver
2 oz. coconut water
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. simple syrup
7 thin slices of cucumber, 3 for garnish
For something fruitier, try a Guavarita
1.5 oz. guava nectar
3 oz. tequila reposado
Garnish with a lime wedge
Mustang Harry’s gives the margarita an Irish spin with the O’Rita:
2 oz. El Tesoro silver tequila
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
To garnish, turn half a lime husk inside-out to create a “shot glass,” fill with Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey and carefully set on top
My smoky favorite is a Mezcalita that substitutes mezcal for tequila. Add pineapple juice, a muddled piece of roasted pineapple (if you have it), a bit of Cointreau and rim the glass with Tajin, the classic Mexican chili, salt and lime mix, which you can order from Amazon.
Or make it smoky, sweet and bitter with a Mezcal Manhattan from La Esquina NYC:
2 oz. Doña Vega Espadín mezcal
1 oz. sweet Vermouth
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish with an orange peel, maraschino cherry or brandy cherry
Bring on the Food
You can create a Mexican-inspired meal with these four dishes from chefs in North America:
Guacamole is a must-have starter at any Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Solmar Hotels & Resorts shares this recipe for a version with a kick: one ripe avocado, chili pepper, ¼ cup of onion, half a tablespoon of crushed garlic, chopped cilantro, two tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Serious Eats’ Mexican street corn (elote) is the perfect side salad
For non-meat eaters, food writer ChihYu Smith offers this delicious Paleo recipe for Fish Tacos
Teach Me, Please and Feed Me
If staying at home has made you kind of of lazy and you’d rather have someone else do most of the work, sign up for this margarita making class and happy hour. All you’ll need to do is supply your own tacos.
Jose Cuervo has that covered for you, too. In the spirit of #TakeoutTuesdays and #TacoTuesday, Jose Cuervo is offering to pick up the tab for thousands of taco orders nationwide on Cinco de Mayo. Just tweet a photo of your receipt with the hashtags #CincotoGo and #CuervoContest to @JoseCuervo to be eligible.
And, finally, since this really is a holiday revolving around tequila, you’ll need to know the proper way to taste and drink the potent spirit. Javier Moreno Gomez, tequila and wine sommelier at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, offers these tips:
To taste the subtleties of tequila, drink it in a wine glass.
Similar to the methods used for wine and other spirits, the basic tasting method is swirl, sniff, sip and swallow.
Check the color; there will be noticeable differences in a reposado or añejo. While color doesn’t affect the flavor, the density or hue can suggest the amount of wood in the tequila and hint towards its complexities.
Swirl the tequila. Look for the legs, the tears of the agave. These suggest essential oils in the tequila and the presence of alcohol. If the tears fall quickly they have less alcohol but if the tears fall slowly you have more alcohol. Swirling the liquid also releases some of the molecules into the air.
Tequila has more alcohol than wine. Different parts of the tequila will have different aromas. Tequila is known to have 600 different aromas including citrus, mint, freshly cut grass, floral, honey, oak, almond, vanilla, butterscotch, chocolate, leather and caramel.
Sip a small amount and hold the tequila in your mouth for about 10 seconds while sucking in a bit of air. Move it around to get it over your tongue, and suck in some air over top of the tequila to bring the aromas up to your nose. Breathe out through your nose before swallowing. There are different taste zones on your tongue — four specific areas for salty, sweet, bitter and sour. Have the tequila wash over the entire tongue.
Swallow and savor the finish and aftertaste. Remember that everything you eat before a sip will affect the taste of the tequila.