Cinco de Mayo Cocktails

Cinco de Mayo Cocktails

If the force didn't cooperate for you yesterday during the annual Star-Wars-nerd-greeting day ("May the Fourth be with you"), you can take solace in today's more established Cinco de Mayo and have the national spirit of Mexico—Tequila—without having to force the issue.

That can mean indulging in the cocktail of your choice or simply taking a premium Tequila neat with a cigar. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Margarita, while a fine drink, is not the official cocktail of Cinco de Mayo. Nor, for that matter, is May 5 the Mexican equivalent of Independence Day.

Even while the Margarita is so well established that it has own Jimmy Buffett song and a Margarita Trail in Santa Fe, New Mexico, mixologists are constantly tinkering and coming up new choices. Here are a few you may wish to try to liven up your day. And if a recipe looks a bit too complex or you find yourself missing an ingredient or two, feel free to experiment or substitute. After all, we're making cocktails, not rocket engines. And don't forget the cigar!

El Cigarillo

Any cigar lover will respond to the name—and won't be disappointed. Mole bitters provide chocolaty flavors as well as a sweet tobacco aroma. Don Julio's recipe calls for clear Tequila, but you might want to upgrade to its Reposado or Añejo.

1 1/2 oz. Tequila Don Julio Blanco
3/4 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz. Carpano Punt e Mes
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
2 drops Mole Bitters
2 drops Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

Hacienda Hibiscus

Recently created by Natalia Cardenas of Beaker and Gray in Miami's Wynwood district, this cocktail introduces two tropical ingredients to good effect: Tequila and the hibiscus flower.

1 1/2 oz. Herradura Silver Tequila
1/2 oz. green chartreuse
1/2 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. Agua de Jamaica (sweetened hibiscus tea concentrate)*
1/4 agave syrup (or sweeten to taste)

*To make the hibiscus tea concentrate: steep one hibiscus tea bag per every 4 oz. of hot water for four minutes. Set aside to cool down.

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice, quick shake, strain over new ice. Garnish with a lime wheel or mint sprig.

Great Escape

With its garden ingredients this is a great spring cocktail—even when it's not Cinco de Mayo.

1 1/2 oz. Maestro Dobel Tequila
2 large basil leaves
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
Four 1/2-inch thick slices of Japanese cucumber, plus thin cucumber slices for garnish

Combine the thick cucumber slices with the large basil leaves in a shaker and muddle well. Add the liquid ingredients plus ice and shake well. Strain into a glass over ice. Garnish with thin cucumber slices.

Midnight Harvest

This drink by DeLeón (which is part of the business empire of current Cigar Aficionado cover celebrity Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs), was actually created for Halloween (note the color coding), but ginger gives it a zest that's good anytime of year.

1 1/2 oz. DeLeón Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. honey ginger syrup

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into rocks glass. Garnish with ginger candy.

Margarita Premium

If you remain a traditionalist, go ahead and stick with the Margarita. This is how it is made at Patio del Níspero at Hotel El Convento in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

2 oz. Patrón Silver
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
3 oz. fresh lime juice
simple syrup to taste

Mix everything together in a shaker with ice. Shake for two minutes and serve in a chilled margarita glass or on the rocks. Garnish with lemon or lime.