Coronas and chips with salsa are good ways to get your Cinco de Mayo party started, but for a blowout bash, try making something different and delicious. For a modern spin on the classic margarita, infuse the drink with an unexpected ingredient like pineapple or lavender, or add a kick of cayenne pepper to the salted rim. Make shrimp tacos using shells made with jicama or chicken taquitos with chipotle sour cream. Oh, and don’t forget to play tunes from the Texas Tornados (thetexastornados.com) to really get the party going. Top tracks include “Guacamole,” “In heaven there is no beer” and “Una mas cerveza.”
Recipe courtesy Klaus Puck, beverage director of WP24 in Los Angeles
2 ounces pineapple-infused Tequila (see recipe)
½ ounce Luxardo Triple Sec
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
1 Thai basil leaf, for garnish
Combine the Tequila, triple sec, lime juice and simple syrup in a mixing glass. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a Thai basil leaf.
1 fresh pineapple ring, about ¼-inch thick
1 Thai basil leaf
4 ounces Patrón Silver Tequila
Place the pineapple ring, Thai basil leaf and Tequila in a glass container. Cover and store in the refrigerator. After two days, strain and discard the solids.
Cucumber Lavender Margarita
Recipe courtesy Mixology Team at Tortilla Republic, West Hollywood, California
3 cucumber wheels
2 ounces el Jimador Blanco Tequila
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce lavender simple syrup (see recipe)
1 sprig fresh lavender, for garnish
Muddle the cucumber slices in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add the Tequila, lime juice and lavender simple syrup. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh lavender.
Lavender Simple Syrup
2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
2 tablespoons sugar
In a small pan set over a medium heat, warm the dried culinary lavender for one minute. Add 2 tablespoons of water and the sugar, and raise the temperature to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower temperature and let simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and let the ingredients infuse for up to 5 hours. Before serving, strain and discard the lavender.
Sugar and Spice Margarita
Recipe courtesy Mark Drew, mixologist and brand ambassador, Herradura Tequila
1 lime wedge
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons salt
2 ounces Herradura Reposado Tequila
½ ounce agave nectar
½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce mango juice
Rub a lime wedge around the rim of a chilled coupe glass. Combine the cayenne pepper and salt on a small plate, then lightly press the rim of the glass into the mixture. Brush off any uneven lumps of cayenne salt and set glass aside.
Pour the Tequila, agave nectar, lime and mango juices into a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. Slowly strain into the middle of the coupe glass, leaving the cayenne-salt rim in tact.
Jicama Shrimp Tacos
Recipe courtesy Cathy Shyne, consulting chef at Tortilla Republic, West Hollywood, California
½ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chipotle adobo, puréed
16 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups jicama, peeled and diced, plus ½ jicama peeled
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped, plus extra leaves for garnish
1 teaspoon serrano pepper, minced, seeds discarded
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Roasted corn, for garnish
To prepare the chipotle aioli
Mix the mayonnaise and chipotle adobo. Add more chipotle adobo for a spicier aioli.
To prepare the filling
Place the shrimp in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain the shrimp and place in a bowl of ice water. Once the shrimp are cool, drain well and chop. Discard the tails.
Combine ¼ cup of the chipotle aioli with the shrimp, diced jicama, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, serrano pepper, red onion and salt in a bowl.
To prepare the jicama taco shells
Glide the widest edge of the peeled ½ jicama across the blade of a large mandoline. Repeat 20 times.
To assemble the tacos
Place 2 tablespoons of the shrimp filling on the edge of a jicama taco shell. Roll into a flute. Garnish with a dollop of chipotle aioli, cilantro leaf and fresh roasted corn. Makes 20 tacos.
Chicken Taquitos with Chipotle and Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
Recipe courtesy Hacienda San Angel, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
½ chicken breast
1½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 cup sour cream
1 chipotle adobado, diced
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
¼ white onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup Cotija cheese
8 small corn tortillas
2 leaves romaine lettuce, slices into thin strips
To prepare the chicken
In a large saucepan set over high heat, bring 4 cups of water to a boil with ½ tablespoon salt. Add chicken breast and reduce temperature to a simmer. Cook the chicken for 10 minutes, or until just cooked. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and let cool. Hand-shred the chicken into thin strips and place in a medium bowl.
To make the dipping sauce
Place the sour cream in a small serving dish. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface of the sour cream, then use the spoon to make a tablespoon-sized indentation in the center. Place the diced chipotle adobado in the indentation.
To prepare the filling
Heat a heavy skillet over a medium flame and add the cumin, then 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Sauté the onion and ¼ teaspoon of salt, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onions become a golden color. Add the tomato and garlic and stir occasionally for three minutes, or until the tomato begins to soften.
Add the sautéed onion mixture and the Cotija to the bowl of shredded chicken. Combine well.
To assemble the taquitos
Place 2 tablespoons of the filling onto the edge of 1 corn tortilla. Roll, secure with a toothpick and set aside with the seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Heat ¼ cup of vegetable oil in a heavy, large skillet over a medium-high flame. Place four taquitos in the oil, seam side down, and cook for 30 seconds. Carefully remove the toothpicks and use kitchen tongs to roll the taquitos one-quarter turn. Repeat until all sides are golden brown. Remove the taquitos from the pan and place on a paper-towel-lined plate. Add the remaining taquitos to the hot oil and repeat and process. Sprinkle the cooked taquitos with ¼ teaspoon of salt.
To serve, arrange a bed of chopped romaine lettuce on a plate, and top with taquitos. Makes 8 taquitos.