Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, which actually takes place on September 16 and gives us yet another reason to celebrate our neighbors to the south. In reality, the May holiday marks the day the Mexican Army won the Battle of Puebla, defeating Napoleon III in 1862. Restaurants across the U.S. join in the celebration with special drinks all day and well into the night. Raise a glass to our amigos with one of these muy magnífico Cinco de Mayo cocktails.
Pineapple-Habanero Margarita at Beatrix, Chicago, Illinois
Tropical sweet meets chili heat. The fruity-spicy, beach-worthy sipper is powered by tequila blanco, the spirit responsible for countless Cinco de Mayo antics that are only remembered thanks to the invention of camera phones. Make a reservation at Beatrix.
Spicy Señorita at Bulla Gastrobar, Coral Gables, Florida
We likey this saucy dame. Built on a base of Don Julio añejo tequila and Napoleon Amontillado sherry, it gets a sweet lift from pineapple juice and cherry bitters. Make a reservation at Bulla Gastrobar.
Viva Pisco! at Pisco Y Nazca, Miami, Florida
We could drink a dozen of these, but then we’d probably wake up on a beach in Cabo with a killer hangover, a painful sunburn, and no clue as to how we got there. It’s made with Jimador reposado tequila, triple sec, cilantro, and habanero. Make a reservation at Pisco Y Nazca.
Crimson Crown at Crimson & Rye, New York, New York
Artfully poured, the cocktail features the three colors of the Mexican flag: red, white, and green. It’s crafted with Buen Bicho mezcal, grapefruit cordial, fresh cucumber, lime, Serrano and rosemary syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, and a splash of soda. Make a reservation at Crimson & Rye.
$100 Prime Margarita at Fleming’s, Denver, Colorado
This margarita is all about the Benjamin. Featuring Selección Suprema tequila, Grand Marnier’s 100th Anniversary Cuvée du Centenaire, and fresh lime juice, it arrives in a beautiful crystal glass that you get to keep. Make a reservation at Fleming’s.
Corazón Valiente at Tanta, Chicago, Illinois
Made with the restaurant’s special barrel Patrón reposado, Zucca (a rhubarb-based Italian aperitif), lime juice, and blood orange syrup, it’s a worthy way to toast Cinco de Mayo. Better still, 50 percent of all proceeds from cocktail will go to Farmer and Landscaper Advocacy Project, whose mission is to improve the working conditions for migrant and seasonal workers in the agricultural and landscaping industries in Illinois. Make a reservation at Tanta.
From Mykonos to Mexico at Porto, Boston, Massachusetts
Inspired by the restaurant’s Mediterranean fare and breezy patio, the cocktail features Don Julio Blanco, dry vermouth, fresh lemon juice, lavender simple syrup, Le Jay cassis, and lavender bitters. A sprinkling of lavender flowers add rich floral aroma to the ruddy tipple. Make a reservation at Porto.
The Passionista at TY Bar-The Four Seasons, New York, New York
Back in college, our nickname was the Passionista for reasons we won’t get into here. The cocktail that bears the same name is amped up with Casa Dragones blanco tequila, but it goes down easy thanks to passion fruit and mango purees, as well as vanilla and honey syrups. Make a reservation at TY Bar-The Four Seasons.
Mambo Bologna at Bar Lupo, Chicago, Illinois
The bar team wanted to add an Italian influence to the smoky herb and caramel flavors of mezcal and tequila, so they added some cantaloupe puree to the mix. It’s garnished with a skewer of spicy soppressata and mortadella, so you can snack while you sip. Make a reservation at Bar Lupo.
Are you headed out for Cinco de Maya cocktails and bites tomorrow? Let us know here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.