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10 Mexican Cocktails for Cinco de Mayo

United States Puebla Travel
by Kate Sedgwick May 4, 2011
It’s just like Americans to celebrate anything having to do with putting the French in their place, as is the case with Cinco de Mayo. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. It’s not even a national Mexican holiday.

Really, it’s an American holiday, and we celebrate it the way we do all holidays with other cultures as their focus (St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest, for example): By getting blind drunk.

If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, you’ll have to be in the state of Puebla or organize your own rag-tag group of US expats to party down American-Mexican style.

Puebla is where the battle was fought against the French in 1861. An estimated 4,000 Mexican troops defeated a French army twice their number on the 5th of May.

The holiday, as we know it, was born out of American Chicano pride in the 1940s, but its recognition as a national holiday didn’t come until 2005. Its wide scale popularity didn’t really reach its stride until the 1980s when beer manufacturers put their corporate weight behind marketing it. So now you know.

Still want to celebrate? Any excuse to drink a michelada, right? Well, okay then. Here are 10 cocktails to help you party down for Cinco de Mayo.
Beer Drinks

In Mexico, there’s no shame in being a lightweight. Mixing beer is not frowned upon. For all of these recipes, a frozen glass is a nice touch. And if you need to take the sting out of drinking Coors Light, these techniques can go a long way in improving the flavor of substandard brews.


What you need:
Beer (This is best with a lighter beer like Corona or Pacifico.)
Chilly glass
Kosher salt

Take your chilly glass and dip the rim in a saucer of water, then salt — course salt is better.

Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt in the bottom of the glass, and add your lime juice. Fill the glass about half way with ice, then add your beer. The juice from half a lime should be about right for one chelada if your limes are juicy.

Want to be adventurous? Add a little chile powder to your salt.


The michelada is just the same as the chelada above, but versions call for dashes of Worcester (jugo Maggi), soy, and Tabasco sauces. When I was bartending on the border in El Paso, the chelada above was called a michelada, so there’s regional and individual variation in recipes and names. Just don’t overdo it with your sauces, and it’ll probably be tasty.

Chavela or ojo rojo

Depending on who you ask, this may be called Clamato y cerveza, a chavela, a chabela, or an ojo rojo. The folks at Budweiser call their stab at a prefab version a chelada. The priniciple is the same as the above drinks.

What you need:

A frozen glass
Kosher salt
Lime juice
Clamato juice
Worcester and/or soy and/or tabasco sauces

This is pretty much like a Bloody Mary, but instead of vodka, you use beer — double breakfast of champions. Keep your ratio about half Clamato and half beer to do it right, and serve it on ice.


When you think of Mexican drinks, tequila probably tops the list. If you want to enjoy it the Mexican way, don’t commit alcohol abuse by slamming it. Get a nice bottle of El Tesoro Añejo, Chinaco, or Hornitos, chill it down and sip it slowly. But if it’s cocktails you’re after, here are a few recipes:

México Lindo

What you need:

1 shot of tequila (1.5 oz.)
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
Splash of Curaçao (.5 oz.)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain, and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Coctel Adelita

This one combines tequila with Kahlúa (from Veracruz).

What you need:

5 parts tequila (2.5 oz.)
1 part Kahlúa (1 oz)
The juice of 1/4 of a lemon

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain, and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon.


If you’re going to go for the old standard, it’s best to do it right and go top shelf all the way.

What you need:

2 oz. top shelf tequila*
1 oz. Grand Marnier or Cointreau
2 oz. orange juice
1 oz. lime juice
Kosher Salt

Salt the rim of your (hopefully chilled) glass, add all liquids to your tumbler with the ice, shake the bejesus out of it, and pour it into your glass. You can garnish this with oranges or limes, and the fresher the juice, the more delicious the drink.

A freaky version of this one can be made with Curaçao instead of Grand Marnier. The orange juice combines with it to make it a very odd green.

*Forget Cuervo. Check out The Fifty Best to find something new.

Tequila tonic or TnT

Matador founder, Ross Borden says, “Once I tried these, I was addicted to them, and my group of friends was the next domino to fall. I have since switched to tequila-soda because I think the sugar in tonic gives you bad hangovers, but it’s delicious if you get the right tequila. El Tesoro Añejo is my favorite.”

What you need:

Top shelf tequila
Tonic water

The ratio for this is 2:1, tonic, tequila. Serve it on ice and garnish with a lime. It’s that simple.

Extra spicy Bloody Maria

If you want to get Tex-Mex, why not switch up your Bloody Mary for a Bloody Maria? Good luck saying it in Spanish. If you want to try, that’s Maria ensangrentada, but I wouldn’t suggest trying to order it on your next trip south of the border. This recipe comes from CHOW.

What you need:

2 oz. Tequila (chile infused if you must)
4 oz. tomato juice
1/2 tsp. freshly grated horseradish
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes of hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon pickled jalapeño juice
A pinch of kosher salt
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
A big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Pinch celery seeds
1 medium pickled jalapeño

CHOW suggests straining this into a highball glass, I say you’re better off serving it on ice in a salt rimmed glass. Either way it comes out, it’s probably going to burn. The pickled jalapeño is for garnish.


Don’t like tequila or beer? That’s okay, honey. Why not have a mudslide and celebrate the American melting pot TGIFriday’s style?

What you need:

1 oz. vodka
1 oz. Kahlúa
1 oz. Irish cream
1 oz. cream

Shake it, strain it, and serve it over ice. To make it extra special, you can blend it and top it with whipped cream and chocolate syrup or a cherry.

Happy drinking.

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