Cinco de Drink...uh, Mayo

Often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day (September 16), Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s David v. Goliath victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862...only to be defeated a year later by the French and overtaken by three years of French rule. 

While in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a ceremonial holiday mostly observed with military parades (and not a day off from work), in the United States, the day has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture, in part due to hype from commercial interests like restaurants and beer companies...and the avocado industry? 

Try this conversation piece out at your next cocktail party: had Mexico not defeated the French in Puebla on May 5, 1862, France may have gone to the aid of the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War and the United States' destiny would have been different. Just don’t bring up Andrew Jackson. 

And speaking of cocktail parties, here are a few drinks -- beyond the old stand-by margarita -- we like for the occasion:

Oaxaca Old-Fashioned

1 ½ oz tequila
½ oz mezcal
1 tsp agave nectar
2 dashes angostura bitters
Orange twist (garnish)

Stir all ingredients over ice, then strain into a coupe. To garnish, flame the orange twist over the drink, then drop it in.

Bitters & Smoke

1 oz. tequila
1 oz. Cynar
½ oz. Fernet-Branca
½ oz. mezcal
Tools: barspoon, strainer
Glass: cocktail
Garnish: grapefruit peel

Add ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled glass; garnish.

French 62

The French 75 is said to be named after the French 75-mm field gun, which was commonly used in World War I. Here’s a version with Mexican flair: 

2 oz Champagne
½ oz lime juice
1 oz Tequila (or Mezcal for some smokiness)
1 ½ tsp agave nectar

Combine tequila, agave nectar, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into an iced champagne glass. Top up with Champagne. Stir gently.

Michelada (for 8)

1 32-oz. bottle chilled Clamato (about 4 cups)
1 32-oz. bottle or 3 12-oz. bottles chilled Mexican lager
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 tsp. Maggi Seasoning
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Lime wedges (for serving)

Mix Clamato, lager, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and Maggi Seasoning in a large pitcher.

Mix salt and chili powder on a small plate. Rub rims of pint glasses with lime wedges and dip in salt mixture. Fill glasses with ice, add Michelada mixture, and garnish with lime wedges...and a straw coated with tamarind-and-chile-paste if you can find one.

Gretchen Skedsvold