Let’s start things off with one cocktailing fact—Cinco de Mayo is all about the margarita. Yes, of course there’s the line up of delicious Mexican beers such as Tecate, Dos Equis or Modelo if you’re so inclined. But for me, this is a holiday that brings my cocktail shaker and a bottle of Tequila out, ready celebrate.
Outside of my cocktailing world there are a few more facts about Cinco de Mayo you should know. Such as the fact that it is a holiday commemorating the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). It is not, as most people think, to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day which is celebrated on September 16th. Here in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, where revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano.
But let’s get back to the tequila …
Choosing the right tequila can be confusing to many. Should you spend a bunch of money and get a high-end tequila like Patron or go for your standard issue Cuervo Gold? Truthfully, it all comes down to personal taste (and budget!) but armed with a little tequila knowledge you can head into that tequila aisle with confidence.
Tequila is made from the agave plant. Often mistakenly referred to as a cactus, this succulent plant is native to the dry climates in Mexico. There are many varieties of agave, but distillers use only the superior quality blue agave to make tequila. A blue agave plant can reach eight feet tall and generally matures when it’s around six years old. Interestingly, the region where the blue agave grows has an impact on it’s flavor profile. Higher elevation clay soil sites tend to have plants that produce fruity, delicate and floral drinks. Plans grown in the lowlands or valleys with volcanic soil provide a spicy, earthier flavor.
Now let’s get back to that MARGARITA …
For me, May 5th is a day unlike any other when it comes to enjoying a salt-rimmed glass filled with citrus juice and one of the aforementioned tequilas. This is THE day to mix a Margarita for me, so I’m here to share one of my favorite recipes that have made many a friend fall in love with tequila. Trust me, you’ll love this and so will all your fellow Cinco de Mayo revelers!
GIDGET’S GRAPEFRUIT-POMEGRANATE MARGARITA
There’s just something refreshing about drinking a margarita that doesn’t include that tart lemon/lime flavoring. This version mellows things out a bit by highlighting the delicious flavors of grapefruit with a touch of pomegranate. I used Resposado tequila to complement the flavors, but a Blanco tequila is amazing with this cocktail as well.
TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, wire strainer, citrus juicer
GLASS :: Old Fashioned
EXTRAS :: Kosher salt, grapefruit wedge for garnish
SERVINGS :: 4 cocktails
6 oz. Hornitos Resposado tequila
1.5 oz. Cointreau or Patron Citron liqueur
1.5 oz. Pama pomegranate liqueur
1 oz. POM pomegranate juice
Fresh squeezed juice from one pink grapefruit (~4 oz.)
1 Tbsp frozen limeade concentrate
Lots of ice!
HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Cut grapefruit in half. Twist glass rims on open side of grapefruit to moisten and dip in kosher salt. Set aside. Juice grapefruit, strain through wire strainer into cocktail shaker. Add ice to shaker and add remaining ingredients. Shake well to combine ingredients – at least one minute. Add ice to glasses and garnish with grapefruit wedge. Divide shaker contents into cocktail glasses.
I personally find the bars and restaurants way too crowded on Cinco de Mayo, so I prefer to drink these margaritas in my own home rather than pay the exorbitant cost for watered versions elsewhere. So gather a few friends and celebrate Cinco de Mayo the right way – with plenty of delicious margaritas. Cheers!