Cinco Por Cinco: Our Five Must-Try Drinks To Celebrate Cinco De Mayo With A Bang
With so many festivities going on all over the world on the 5th of May, people tend to forget that the date actually commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French Empire in 1862.
Over the years, Cinco de Mayo has become a day to, well…party up, preferably with libations. To celebrate the date’s Mexican roots while still having a good time, here are five drinks—both boozy and not—to enjoy Cinco de Mayo with:
Real tequila comes from the delimited area of Tequila, Mexico. It is made with blue agave and comes in four general classifications according to ageing: Blanco/Silver, which is colorless and considered the most authentic; Joven/Oro/Gold, which is still unaged but has been softened and colored by caramel; Reposado, which has been aged for a short amount of time in oak barrels; and Añejo, which has been aged for a significant amount of time in oak barrels.
Hacienda Comida y Cocteles in Bonifacio Global City offers an extensive selection of Blanco, Reposado, and Añejo tequilas
Traditionally, Cinco de Mayo parties involve enjoying tequila as shooters. Drinking tequila as straight shots involve the concept of “lick, sip, suck,” which means licking salt off the drinker’s hand, sipping (or shooting) the tequila shot, then sucking on a lime. Salt reduces the burn of the alcohol, and lime enhances the tequila’s flavors.
Enjoy tequila shots (and cocktails too) at Hacienda on Cinco de Mayo (IG @haciendamnl)
I often say that mezcal is the “less talked about and often misunderstood” brother of tequila. While they’re generally perceived as “Mexican shooters,” there are key differences between the two: mezcal can be made from any of the 30 variants of agave (versus tequila which has to be made from blue agave). Most mezcals come from Oaxaca, but they can be made in any of the registered Mezcal D.O.s in Mexico.
Chino MNL at One Bonifacio High offers an extensive mezcal and tequila collection at the bar
Then, there’s the worm. Indeed, some but not all mezcal bottles have worms… There is really something about mezcal and worms that, traditionally, it is recommended to use worm salt to consume the shot.
A worm lurks inside this shot of mezcal (Bex Walton via Wikimedia Commons)
Mezcal can also be aged, but it has different ageing classifications: Joven is unaged and clear; Dorado is unaged but colored with coloring agents; Reposado/Añejado is aged in a wooden barrel for two to nine months; and Añejo is aged for one to four years.
This mezcal joven is just one of the many mezcal brands available at Chino MNL (photo courtesy of Chino MNL Facebook page)
People can try different kinds of Mezcal (some are even interpreted as cocktails for those who are not fans of shooters) in Chino MNL in Bonifacio Global City, where it can also be paired with delicious modern Mexican fare.
3. Corona Beer
Honestly, most American Cinco de Mayo parties I’ve attended have involved copious amounts of beer. Again, in the spirit of bringing the holiday back to its Mexican roots, I normally try to drink a Corona, a widely exported Mexican pale lager normally enjoyed with a slice of lime.
I find that it’s milder and much more refreshing than most commonly found beers in the market. Also, at 4.6% ABV, people could definitely enjoy more than a bottle.
In Manila, I highly recommend Chihuahua Mexican Grill as the ultimate place for a Corona beer, even more awesome paired with their Steak Tacos.
Perfectly paired with Corona, tacos at Chihuahua Mexican Grill with branches in Greenbelt 2 Makati and Crossroads in BGC
4. Hot Chocolate
People often think of hot chocolate as a beverage enjoyed with a snowy backdrop. What tends to be forgotten is that, historically, Mexicans introduced the drink to Europeans in the New World.
Signature Hot Chocolate at Starbucks
Today, there are several variations on its recipe worldwide, including our own spin on it, which uses tablea or pure ground roasted cacao beans formed into tablets. The tablea is dissolved in hot water and milk.
Starbucks’ Classic Hot Chocolate
In a pinch, I’d go to a nearby Starbucks branch to enjoy a hot chocolate. They have a Classic Hot Chocolate that has chocolate drizzle on the top, and a Signature Hot Chocolate that has chocolate powder dusting.
In Mexico, people usually accompany a straight shot of tequila blanco with a Sangrita, a non-alcoholic drink that enhances the acidity and crispness of tequila. It also acts as a palate cleanser between shots. If you’re planning to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home, a Sangrita is easy enough to make. There are many recipes out there, but this is my homage to the Mexico City version:
Make-it-at-home sangrita paired with a shot of tequila (photo by Gail Sotelo)
5 parts tomato juice
2 parts lime juice
1 part orange juice
hot sauce of your choice
Mix the juices together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Add liquid seasoning, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco to taste. Shake thoroughly and strain into a shot glass rimmed with salt.
Gail Sotelo has a WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and Spirits. She is a wine consultant, blogger, and lecturer. She owns the drink blog 2shotsandapint.com which aims to make wine and other drinks accessible to everybody, and holds classes at Enderun Colleges.