Cinco de Mayo Cocktails

Michelada from T Magazine

Michelada from T Magazine

Margaritas are the usual go-to cocktail for Cinco de Mayo. But if you’re looking for a different kind of Cinco de Mayo drink, here are a few fun ways to celebrate.

Michelada ~ Perfect for sipping all afternoon, this is a spiced beer cocktail that goes well with Mexican food.

Beer and a Smoke ~ Here’s another beer cocktail, only this one’s made with smoky mezcal for more oomph.

Rhubarb Rita ~ Rhubarb is in season, and it’s a great buddy for tequila. Slightly tart with a hint of sweetness, this is a refreshing Spring twist on a Margarita.

El Guapo ~ You can use tequila or mezcal in this spicy cousin to the classic Margarita. Bring on the heat!

Cilantro Tequila Lime Spritzer ~ If you want something light, this herbed spritzer will do the trick. Add jalapeño slices for a little kick.

Mezcal Cocktails

Fennel Delight from Smith & Radcliff

Mezcal is tequila’s brooding cousin—it’s also made in Mexico from a type of agave plant. Sometimes it’s jokingly called the Scotch of Mexico because of its strong smoky flavor. It used to have a nasty “eat the worm” reputation, but every year more and more sophisticated mezcals are making it to the states. Like tequila, it pairs well with sweet or tart fruit as well as spice. Since it’s not called for in the “classics,” has a bold flavor, and is less familiar to most of us, mezcal doesn’t always make it into our shakers. But if you’re willing to experiment, it can knock your socks off! Here are some tasty recipes to try.

Brush of the Bush ~ This cocktail mixes two of Mexico’s signature spirits: Anejo tequila and smoky mezcal. Add some sage-infused agave syrup, a big ice cube and you have an aromatic and savory cocktail.

Mezcal Smash ~ Sweet pineapple is a tasty counterbalance for mezcal in this easy-to-make and refreshing drink. A little cinnamon syrup is the perfect bridge between the sweet and smoky flavors.

Oaxaca Cooler ~ Cucumber, lemon, and a little chili salt add a nice touch to Oaxacan mezcal. Saveur recommends using a non-traditional, unsmoked agave mezcal.

Fennel Delight ~ Fennel and grapefruit are one of my favorite salad combinations, and I had no idea they’d be such a lovely complement to mezcal. It lets the mezcal shine without smoke dominating your palette.

El Guapo Cocktail ~ Hot sauce makes this a spicy drink to rival any Bloody Mary, and mezcal takes the drink to an even spicier place … with a little lime, cucumber, and simple syrup to temper the heat.

Tales of the Cocktail New Spirit: Montelobos Mezcal

The first party I went to at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail was the William Grant & Sons/Tales of the Cocktail 10th birthday extravaganza at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Though I do use the word extravaganza loosely in my day-to-day life, this was a party of epic proportions that deserves the moniker.

William Grant & Sons represents about a gazillion liquor brands (Stoli, The Balvenie, Hendrick’s, Sailor Jerry, Glenfiddich, Milagro Tequila, Hudson Whiskey, and Lillet, to name just a few) and each of them had a cocktail station set up all around the museum (inside and out). It was fun to drink cocktails inches away from Dutch master paintings or next to a Magritte sculpture. As far as I know, no works of art were harmed in the process.

There weren’t a whole lot of new spirits introduced at Tales this year, so I was excited to try Montelobos Mezcal … not only because it was new, but also because I have very little experience with mezcals and so I like to try them.

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