Cinco de Mayo? We just celebrate Tequila.
Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. Nor is it a nationally recognized holiday in Mexico. In fact there is only one place in Mexico that celebrates this holiday at all, and that is a town just outside of Mexico City called Puebla. You might be even more surprised to learn that is is not, in fact, a drinking holiday for the Mexicans in Puebla either.
If you are scratching you head, here is the skinny: in 1861, Benito Juarez (President of Mexico 1858-1872) decided that Mexico no longer needed to keep making interest payments on the outstanding loans it had incurred with France. Well, Napoleon III (the self-appointed Emperor of France at the time) wasn’t thrilled with the lack of pesos he was receiving, and decided to invade Mexico for their arrogance and set up a French government. Their first invasion in this process was a success, but on May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the larger and better equipped French Army in the Battle of Puebla, just outside of the capital, Mexico City.
Unfortunately, this success didn’t deter the French from eventually getting their way, and they occupied Mexico from 1863 to 1867. Clearly, the Mexicans did eventually kick them out again, the appointed ruler of Mexico was executed, and Juarez was reinstated as President until his death in 1872. So the question is, why does the U.S. celebrate a fairly small battle during the French occupation of Mexico?
There is speculation that the origins of the U.S. celebration were in response to the Mexican victory over the French, whom we had our own differences with at the time, as the most plausible explanation. These most likely blossomed into a cultural celebration for those with Mexican ties primarily in the Southwest, gradually spread across the country, and then at some point Jose Cuervo got involved and the rest is history.
Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated in California since 1863, and has spread throughout the country in a way that mirrors St. Patrick’s Day in its complete ignorance of why it exists in the first place, yet purports to be a celebration of the culture itself, even though the respective countries just don’t take it as far as we do. Ah, America. We can take solace in that where others do, we overdo in a way that has made us famous.
Here at DrinkGal, we have worked in bars on “holidays” enough to know an excuse to get drunk when it puts up bikini clad women on posters and has no real message when we see one. We offer you a respite to the madness of yet another holiday you can’t understand with something you can. We offer, tequila.
Without our fine cousin to the south, we would have no Cinco de Mayo, and perhaps we would have no tequila. If the French had their way, perhaps we would be sipping nothing but cognac, and… liking it? So, to celebrate Mexicans, not Frechicans, and the delicious tequila they provide our thirsty palates with, we offer up some delicious tequila based recipes for you to enjoy.
If you want to start out easy, try a Paloma, a mix of tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda. It’s a very popular drink in Mexico, and its an easy way to get into tequila cocktails without reverting to the old stand-by, the Margarita. (Not to dismiss this drink, we drink our fill!) Or you can always revert to a Tequila Sunrise if you are just craving a little orange juice. Is there anything that doesn’t mix well with orange juice? Even gin isn’t all that bad. But we digress.
Wanna go classic with a little twist? Maybe a Tequila Martinez. A little Lillet and peach bitters never really hurt a drink, after all. Or how about a Diablo, with ginger ale and a bit of Cassis. Yummy.
We’ve saved the best recipes for last. We went to a little tequila class at Barrio a couple months back, and came away with more than just a newfound appreciation for the misunderstood liquor, but some delicious recipes as well. Our two favorites were the Sangra de Agave (Blood of Agave) and the Maximilian Affair. If you don’t think tequila is versatile to make good cocktails, these will change your mind!
2 oz blanco or reposado tequila
6 oz fresh grapefruit soda
½ oz lime juice
Rim a glass with salt, fill with ice. Add all ingredients and stir gently.
2 oz (a good) reposado tequila
1 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup (we use demerara)
splash of oj
Put all ingredients in a shaker over ice, shake and strain into an ice filled glass with a salted rim. Garnish with a lime wheel.
2 oz tequila
5 oz orange juice
½ oz grenadine syrup
Pour tequila and orange juice into an ice-filled glass and stir with barspoon. Pour grenadine in a circle around the top of the drink, let it settle at the bottom of the drink. Garnish with an orange wheel or cherry.
1 ½ oz tequila reposado
½ oz Dolin Blanc
1 tsp Lillet Blanc
1 dash peach bitters
Stir all ingredients briskly with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
1 ½ oz blanco tequila
½ oz elderflower liqueur
½ oz apricot liqueur
½ oz blanc vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice in a shaker, strain into martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Sangra de Agave
1 oz reposado tequila
1 oz dark rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz creme de cassis
½ oz agave syrup
Shake all ingredients together in ice-filled shaker, strain into martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
2 oz tequila
½ oz creme de cassis
½ oz fresh lime juice
Pour all ingredients into ice filled glass, top with ginger ale. Garnish with a lime wedge.