Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that celebrates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, a key victory on the road to Mexico's independence. And while it may be the last minute, it is never too late to throw a party.
“The best way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo would be with Mexican culture,”
says Matt Carroll, chief marketing officer with Patron Sprits in Las Vegas. So get the right food and drink, starting with the right tequila.
The first thing to know about tequila is the aging process, says Carroll. “Reposado” is Spanish for “rested” and a tequila reposado means the liquor aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two months. “Anejo” is Spanish for “year” and tequila anejo has been aging for at least a year – and is therefore more expensive.
Doing shots may come to mind, but not all brands need to be paired with a lime and salt to lessen the bitter aftertaste. Carroll says his tequila is more of a “sipping and savoring” beverage, and suggests a Patron on the rocks as a way to savor the 100% agave beverage. (Other popular brands include Jose Cuervo Especial (DEO), and Sauza Gold.)
Authentic Mexican drink recipes are also encouraged. Try making a la paloma, which includes tequila, grapefruit soda and a pinch of salt. (Carroll recommends Squirt (CSG) as a grapefruit soda to mix with Patron.) Click here for a recipe from Esquire magazine.
Another authentic Mexican drink is sangrita, a tomato-juice based drink with onions and orange juice that Carroll recommends side-by-side with a shot of tequila. Though sangrita can be sipped, the drink can also be used as a chaser if you take your tequila as a shot. Click here for a recipe from Food & Wine magazine.
Then there’s the matter of food. Sure, you could always swing by Chipotle (CMG) after work. But keeping with the theme of authenticity, deep-fried taquitos are how actual Mexican-Americans roll, explains Nezua of MTV News’ street team and a blogger at The Unapologetic Mexican. Of course, chips, salsa and guacamole should also be on the menu.
For ambiance, Nezua suggests “tacky chili pepper lights,” like this set that can be found for $11.99 on Amazon.com (AMZN). Mix CD filled with mariachi music and reggaeton, a blend of reggae and rap music will also set the mood.
Cinco de Mayo, may be “an excuse to get together with friends” but it’s also a landmark in Mexican’s history of “people power,” says Nezua. “If you’re going to celebrate it, then read up and find out what you’re celebrating."
Impress your friends with some Mexican history: The French had occupied the country after the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 and on May 5, 1862 a ragtag group of Mexicans were able to defeat their oppressors, who were far better equipped.
Mexican Independence Day isn’t until Sept. 16, and therefore Cinco de Mayo is a somewhat American-ized holiday that lots of Mexicans don’t even celebrate, Nezua points out. But the good news is if you’re tardy planning Cinco de Mayo festivities today, you’ve got all summer to plan for the real Mexican Independence Day this fall. Happy Cinco de Mayo!