Kick off your Cinco de Mayo weekend with a frosty mojito, margarita, or smoky mezcal cocktail
Cinco de Mayo menu:
42 easy Mexican dinners
14 great Mexican side dishes
11 delicious Mexican desserts
Ruby grapefruit juice gives an extra tangy bite to the standard marg, while a sugar-rimmed glass helps to sweeten things up.
3 cups ruby grapefruit juice (fresh-squeezed or purchased)
2 cups of tequila
1 cup triple sec or other orange-flavored liqueur
1/4 cup sugar
In a pitcher (at least 2-qt. capacity), combine 3 cups ruby grapefruit juice (fresh-squeezed or purchased), 2 cups tequila, and 1 cup triple sec or other orange-flavored liqueur. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day. Pour about 1/4 cup sugar on a rimmed plate. Cut a ruby grapefruit in half and rub rims of double old-fashioned glasses (8 oz.) with cut side of one half to moisten, then dip glass rims in sugar to coat. Fill glasses with ice cubes. Pour grapefruit margaritas over ice, taking care not to disturb sugared glass rims.
Nibble on the refreshing watermelon ice cubes in between sips of this tart drink.
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur
About 1/2 cup chilled sparkling water
Watermelon ice cubes
Rub the rim of a glass (12 oz.) with a cut lime and dip rim in coarse salt. Pour tequila, lime juice, and orange-flavored liqueur into glass. Place watermelon ice cubes in glass and fill with chilled sparkling water.
The Smokin’ Word
Take super-smoky mezcal, throw in a hit of cherries, and you’ve got one bold drink.
3/4 ounce mezcal (very smoky)
3/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
3/4 ounce Chartreuse
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Brandy-soaked dark cherries
Put a handful of ice in a cocktail shaker and add mezcal, Luxardo, Chartreuse, and lime juice. Shake, and strain into a martini glass or coupe. Garnish with a cherry or two.
Sangrita de Toro
A spicy take on a Bloody Mary, with tequila instead of vodka. The chile salt makes enough for about 6 cocktails.
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground arbol chiles* plus 1 whole arbol chile, crushed slightly with a mallet
1 lime wedge plus 1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) 100 percent tequila blanco
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) Bloody Mary mix
3 dashes hot sauce
Combine salt and ground chiles on a small plate. Rub the rim of a chilled 12-oz. glass with lime wedge, then dip in salt mixture. Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice. Add lime juice, tequila, Bloody Mary mix, and hot sauce and shake until cold. Pour ice mixture into glass and garnish with whole chile. For a thinner cocktail, let it sit on ice about 5 minutes.
* Find arbol chiles at Latino markets. Grind about 2 minutes in a clean spice grinder.
The secret to a good mojito is lots of fresh mint. Habana Restaurant in San Francisco goes through 100 pounds of mint a week to make 1,000 mojitos. Levende Lounge, also in San Francisco, crushes even more fresh mint leaves for each drink.
Inspired by both recipes, we developed this simplified home-style mojito that follows their minty lead.
20 rinsed fresh mint leaves (each about 1 1/2 in. long)
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
4-5 tablespoons light rum
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4-6 tablespoons chilled soda water
In an 8- to 10-ounce glass, combine 20 rinsed fresh mint leaves and 2 teaspoons superfine sugar. With a wooden spoon, pound mint leaves with sugar to coarsely crush. Add 4 to 5 tablespoons light rum, 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice; mix well. Fill glass with ice cubes and 4 to 6 tablespoons chilled soda water. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Sometimes simple is the way to go. This basic margarita showcases high-quailty blue agave tequila.
1 tablespoon light agave nectar
1/4 cup blue agave tequila
2 tablespoons freshly squeeze lime juice
Whisk together agave nectar and 1 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Pour thinned nectar, tequila, and lime juice in a shaker. Add ice and shake until blended. Strain into a glass or pour over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.
Note: San Francisco bar legend Julio Bermejo, owner of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant and named U.S. ambassador of tequila by the state of Jalisco, gives us this recipe. Fine tequila can have all of the depth and character of wine. Quality matters, so always use tequila labeled 100 percent blue agave. Any variety or style will work, but the more aged it is, the smokier it tastes; highland style tends to be briny with citrus notes, and lowland style can be herbaceous and earthy.
Thyme for Mezcal
Mezcal, tequila’s moody brother, ditches its rough reputation and stars in this spring-fresh cocktail.
1/4 cup sugar
8 thyme sprigs, plus more for garnish
2 ounces mezcal (moderately smoky)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons St. Germain elderflower liqueur
Make thyme-flavored simple syrup: Microwave 1/4 cup water, sugar, and 8 thyme sprigs, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved; chill at least 2 hours, then discard thyme. Put a handful of ice in a cocktail shaker and add mezcal, lemon juice, liqueur, and 1 tbsp. thyme-flavored simple syrup. Shake and strain into a martini glass or a coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist and a thyme sprig.
Our version of the classic Mexican cocktail has a fruity finish.
1/3 cup each tequila and triple sec
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons pomegranate juice
2 twists fresh lime peel
Put about 1 cup ice cubes in a pitcher. Pour in tequila, triple sec, orange juice, and lime juice. Stir well and divide between two cocktail glasses. Using the back of a large spoon, carefully pour 2 tbsp. pomegranate juice down the inner side of each glass. Garnish each with fresh lime peel, crushed slightly just before adding.
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20 essential Mexican ingredients
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