Fact: Cinco de Mayo is not “Tequila Day,” it’s a celebration of Mexico’s victory over France at the 1862 Battle of Puebla.
Fact: It’s not even that big a deal in Mexico.
Fact: You should still have a party, or at least a couple buddies over, because tacos and tequila are always a good idea.
Cinco de Mayo is probably second only to St. Patrick’s Day in the “drink like a fish” Olympics, but just like March’s Irish-a-palooza, the biggest party day in May can be a whole lot nicer if you’re willing to try.
Make the Perfect Cadillac Margarita
There are quite a few cocktails that have been twisted and adulterated so much over the years they barely resemble their formerly delicious selves, and the margarita is one of them. You can find versions of this drink everywhere, including in yard-long plastic tubes in Vegas and pouring out of slushy machines at theme parks. Those are not good margaritas.
Impress your friends or just treat yourself to a margarita done the right way with this Cadillac Margarita recipe from The Spruce Eats. The recipe is straightforward as is the methodology—what really matters are the ingredients:
- Reposado Tequila: Choose a premium reposado, which is a tequila that is “rested” or barrel-aged for at least two months. It has more character and depth than a silver or white tequila but not as much as an añejo, which makes it ideal for a mixed drink.
- Grand Marnier: You need orange liqueur to make this work, and that gnarly, sugar-forward triple sec stuff is not going to do the trick.
- Fresh Lime Juice: Not bottled, fresh. You’ll taste the difference.
- Salt: Get plain kosher or sea salt.
Establish this as your signature drink and you’ll soon make friends and influence people, practically guaranteed.
Buy Really Good Booze
Tequila is a lot like wine—you can get the cheap stuff almost anywhere, and that two-buck chuck is fine if your only goal is to get buzzed, but if you want something delicious to sip on today, tomorrow, and even years from now, you’ve got to try a little harder and spend a little more.
Save the grocery store buys lingering in your pantry for another day and check out these high-quality alternatives:
- Casa Dragones Joven: It’s beloved by industry pros and publications like Forbes Magazine, and it’s no wonder why—this sipping tequila (please don’t dump it in your paloma) is a blend of 100% Blue Agave silver and extra-aged tequila aged for half a decade for a rich mouthfeel and supple, layered flavor that are out of this world.
- Corazon Reposado Buffalo Trace: Buffalo Trace is bourbon. This is tequila. The connection? Corazon is making stunningly delicious tequila aged in Buffalo Trace barrels for a floral, herbaceous liquor with a caramel and vanilla bottom end. It’s surprising in the most wonderful way. Try it for something different or to thrill a friend who swears they only like bourbon.
- Chinaco Anejo Tequila: The story behind Chinaco is fascinating, but for now you just need to know that it was the first premium tequila in the United States, first emerging on the market in 1983. It’s been overshadowed by the powerful marketing arms of companies like Patron and Jose Cuervo, but if you want to go back to the start of the tequila revolution in the U.S., this is it. It’s also supremely tasty.
For chasers, opt for craft Mexican brands like Maria Bonita (it’s hard to decide what we like more: the taste, the packaging, or the cause), Ramuri (the stout may shake your allegiance to Guinness), and Baja’s Cerveza Urbana.
Invest in Gorgeous, Heirloom-Worthy Glassware
That boutique tequila you just ordered deserves a shiny new home. Waterford’s Okann Lead Crystal Decanter features clean lines and a geometric design that will look fantastic next to whatever existing bar gear you already have—in fact, it’ll make everything look that much better. Pair it with matching old-fashioned glasses and sip your drink in style.
Turn a whole pile of limes into taste bud-tingling magic with the Verve Culture Artisan Citrus Juicer. It has an industrial/craft vibe that’s somehow both retro and very on-trend, and you’ll likely use it far more than you expect.
Showcase Your Mastery of All Things Culinary (Or at Least Three Awesome Things)
No one is expecting you to morph into Aarón Sánchez overnight. This isn’t Masterchef and you’re probably not the kind of host who wants to be in the kitchen all night rather than hanging out with your guests. That’s why these recipes are so smart. Everything goes on the grill, and you can do much of the work—minus the prep, which can be done ahead of time—with tongs in one hand and your cocktail in the other.
Start with carne asada as your centerpiece. Juicy flank steak marinated in aromatics, citrus, and beer means tons of zip in every bite. You can toss your tortillas on the grill, too; the char marks add a sort of umami to the meal and it helps get rid of that floury packaged flavor that makes people think of cheap take out.
To finish off your tacos, sit out bowls of toppings. Include your choice of spicy, crunchy, sour, herbal, and creamy add-ons:
- Chopped cilantro
- Pickled carrots and jalapenos
- Diced onion
- Lime crema
- Sliced radishes