Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that would be September 16, 1810). But the festive holiday does commemorate the Mexican army’s unexpected victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, explaining why it’s a time to celebrate with Tequila, of course. Raise your glass this Thursday to one of these easy-to-make agave cocktails:
DeLeón’s take on the Margarita gets its refreshing flavor from muddled kumquats.
“Citrus fruits are well known complements to Tequila drinks,” says Brent Hocking, founder and CEO of DeLeón Tequila. “The kumquat is rare, like DeLéon. We choose to be different.” When you get to the bottom of the drink, you can eat the tiny orange fruit—skin, seeds and all.
2 ounces DeLeón Reposado Tequila
4 sliced kumquats
¼ ounce agave nectar
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce Fee Brothers Falernum
1 slice of jalapeño, for garnish
Muddle sliced kumquats, agave nectar, lemon juice and falernum in a rocks glass. Add Tequila and stir ingredients to combine. Add crushed ice and stir again. Garnish with a slice of jalapeño.
Peligroso Thai Basil Cucumber Margarita
This inspired Margarita riff is light and aromatic, thanks to the addition of cool cucumber slices and exotic Thai basil. For more of a ginger kick, substitute ginger beer for the ale.
1½ ounces Peligroso Silver Tequila
2 ounces agave nectar or simple syrup
Juice of 2 limes
2 cucumber slices
3-4 Thai basil leaves
Splash of ginger ale
Sprig of Thai basil and a cucumber slice, for garnish
Black pepper, for garnish
Combine Thai basil and two slices of cucumber in a shaker, and muddle with the agave nectar or simple syrup. Add the fresh lime juice and Tequila, and fill shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled Margarita glass filled with cracked ice. Top with a splash of ginger ale and garnish with a cucumber slice, a sprig of basil and add a small pinch of black pepper on top.
901 Chili Flake Margarita
Courtesy of Ed McFarland, Ed’s Lobster Bar, New York, NY
Simple syrup infused with red pepper flakes wakes up your taste buds in this kicky sip. For less of a burn, replace some of the chili syrup with simple syrup or agave nectar to sweeten the drink, to taste. To crank up the heat, rim the drink with a mixture of kosher salt and crushed red pepper.
2 ounces 901 Silver Tequila
2 ounces chili syrup*
2 ounces fresh lime juice
For chili syrup:
3 cups water
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
*To make chili syrup: Combine water, sugar and crushed red pepper in a saucepan. Boil and reduce by half. Remove from heat, strain and chill.
To make 901 Chili Flake Margarita: Add Tequila, chili syrup and lime juice to a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail or Margarita glass filled with crushed ice.
Courtesy of El Centro D.F., Washington, DC
The classic Smash gets a modern twist with a dose of Domaine de Canton in addition to the traditional berries and herbs at this brand new DC-based Mexican restaurant, where staff serves over 200 Tequilas and mezcals, and a Tequila sommelier assists with pairings and flavor profiles.
1½ ounces white or silver Tequila
¾ ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
Spoonful of seasonal berries
6 basil leaves
6 mint leaves
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice.
Courtesy of El Centro D.F., Washington, DC
Spanish for “dove,” the Paloma is the most popular cocktail in Mexico. It usually includes grapefruit soda like Squirt or Jarritos, but El Centro’s version replaces it with blood orange juice, oregano-infused lime juice and club soda.
1½ ounce Tequila Reposado
2 ounces fresh blood orange juice
1 ounce Mexican Oregano-infused Lime Juice*
3-4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Blood orange twist, for garnish
*Note: For the infused lime juice, muddle a handful of Mexican oregano with lime juice, and then double strain to remove the leaves.
Add all ingredients except club soda and garnish in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a highball glass filled with cracked ice, and garnish with a blood orange twist.
AGWA Berry Kiss
Courtesy of AGWA de Bolivia
Though technically not produced in Mexico, AGWA de Bolivia is made south of the border, from de-cocainized coca leaves picked from the Andes. The Berry Kiss is topped with Prosecco, which balances and sweetens AGWA’s distinctive herbal, peppery flavor.
1½ ounces AGWA de Bolivia Liqueur
Juice of 1 lime
5 ounces chilled Prosecco
Fresh blackberries and raspberries, for garnish
Add AGWA and lime to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled flute glass. Add chilled Prosecco and gently stir. Garnish with fresh berries.