It’s Almost Time To Celebrate What Most Americans Think is Mexican Independence Day

Cinco de Mayo is this coming Sunday. How lucky for every Mexican-themed restaurant, bar, and booze producer that the holiday falls on a weekend this year. Patrón shots and jalapeño poppers for all! But for those of us who care about such things, that means even more people than usual will be raising a glass to Mexican independence, rather than what the holiday actually commemorates, which is the Mexican army’s victory over superior French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862–while the American Civil War raged north of the border. So if you, like me, go out of your way to correct people when they write St. Patty’s Day instead of St. Paddy’s Day, then you’re in for a busy weekend. But be sure to do your research. True, Mexico’s real independence day is on September 16 (somebody tell Corona’s marketing department), but Cinco de Mayo does serve as a celebration of Mexican heritage, so it’s not a completely made-up holiday. It’s just a misunderstood one that calls for your wisdom and Wikipedia entry-reading skills. But one thing that everybody understands is that the most respectful way to mark the courage and sacrifice of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín’s troops on that fateful spring day is by downing lots of sweet, Mexican-themed cocktails. Maybe people won’t be as likely to think you’re a jerk for correcting them if you do so while handing them a glass of one of these tasty concoctions. 

Here’s one from our friends at Hornitos Tequila. Really, I’ve met them. They’re nice. 

Hornitos Pomegranate Paloma

Ingredients: 2 parts Hornitos Plata Tequila to 1⁄2 part Lime Juice

1⁄2 part Pomegranate Juice

1⁄2 part Grapefruit Juice

1⁄2 part Agave Nectar Soda Water

Pour all ingredients except for the soda water into an ice-filled cocktail shaker.  Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with a mint sprig, if you’re the kind of person who keeps a mint plant by your kitchen window. A lime wheel will work for normal people. 

This next drink is from the capable crew of the Gerber Group’s new The LCL: Bar & Kitchen on 42nd Street in Mexico Manhattan.

Smoke & Heat

1 ½ ounces Vida Organic Mezcal

½ ounce Agave Nectar

½ ounce Fresh Lime Juice

½ ounce Pineapple Juice

½ ounce Egg White

Shake and strain into a coup. (The LCL peeps say: "This combination highlights the nuanced smokiness of tequila’s older cousin and fuses it with the acidity of pineapple and lime juices to produce the most sensational experience.")

The following drink uses Kappa Pisco, which comes from Chile. What does Chile have to do with Cinco de Mayo? I don’t know. The agave nectar probably comes from Mexico, at least: 

South American Margarita

1 ½ oz KAPPA Pisco

½ oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge

½ oz agave nectar

1 oz fresh lime juice

Combine ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

All these cocktails sound great, but today’s best tequilas should be consumed neat, with nary a salt shaker or lime slice in sight. My favorite tequilas of recent memory? Herradura Seleccion Suprema ($350) is amazing, if you can afford it. If not, George Clooney’s new tequila, Casamigos, is also excellent, and, at about $50, a lot easier to fit in your Cinco de Mayo budget. 

Happy Cinco, everybody! See you at the bar. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listing for the LCLHonk if You’re Hornitos; Screw It, Let’s Drink Some Herradura Tequila; George Clooney’s New Tequila Is Actually Quite Delicious; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

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