While many are scrambling to pull together their Cinco de Mayo celebrations this year, it’s important to not lose focus on what the holiday represents. Since 1862, Cinco de Mayo has commemorated the Mexican victory over an invading French army, and given millions a day to come together and celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. It is, therefore, the ideal opportunity to enjoy one of the country’s great gifts to the world: tequila.
If you’re planning your celebration around the world-famous spirit, you’ll want a tequila that delivers both authenticity and quality. In these respects, there is no better candidate than PATRÓN and its handmade, ultra-premium range of Silver, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas.
Made using many old-fashioned methods, PATRÓN has held a place on Cinco de Mayo menus for years, and offers plenty of interesting ways to celebrate its spirits. So when considering how to weave PATRÓN into your Cinco de Mayo celebration, and what to pair it with, why not use this year’s holiday as an avenue for exploration?
If you’ve already mastered the Margarita, it’s time to discover a range of bright highballs and complex cocktails that reimagine the classics — all with tequila at their core. Likewise, while many of us have our guac recipe perfected to an art form, what about grilled, marinated meats or hearty stews that’ll fight off a stubborn, late-spring chill?
Read on to learn about these exciting new cocktails and dishes, and discover our best tips for serving.
Cocktails Beyond the Margarita
The Margarita is as beloved as it is delicious. A delicate mix of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice, the citrus-based supporting ingredients provide sweet and sour balance while enabling the agave-based distillate to shine. Given its simplicity and sheer drinkability, it’s hard to look past this recipe when mixing tequila cocktails. But this does risk overlooking the spirit’s full potential, and the range of flavor profiles tequila provides from blanco to añejo. For a prime Cinco de Mayo celebration — one that truly celebrates Mexico’s most iconic alcoholic beverage — we need to look beyond the Margarita.
Any exploration should begin with the Paloma. Even simpler than the Margarita and impossibly bright, the drink traditionally sees blanco tequila mixed with lime juice and a sweet Mexican grapefruit soda, such as Jarritos. For a more refined, luxurious interpretation, turn to PATRÓN Reposado. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a splash of club soda can also sub in for the Jarritos, though this move may call for agave syrup to replace that subtle sweetness. Either way, a salted rim on the highball glass in which the reposado Paloma is served heightens its flavor while amplifying the agave character and subtle aging of the base tequila.
An even simpler but equally sunny highball can be made by combining tequila, lime juice, and Mexico’s iconic Topo Chico sparkling mineral water, to produce the increasingly popular Ranch Water.
Later in the evening calls for spirit-forward, stirred libations. And in this respect we can fully appreciate tequila in its aged añejo and extra añejo forms.
First, prepare to mix the Rosita, a drink believed to have been concocted by the late Gary “Gaz” Regan, that shares some similarities with a Negroni. Three-parts reposado tequila drives the stirred cocktail in its original guise, with support coming from one part each Campari, sweet vermouth, and dry vermouth. Using PATRÓN Añejo instead of reposado will further inspire the drink, and bring a telltale, luxurious richness. A finishing dash of Angostura bitters springs everything to life.
Consider also the Augie March. Devised by Phil Ward in the late 2000s at New York’s Death & Co, this cocktail is a stunning evolution of the Manhattan that shines a spotlight on tequila’s dazzlingly complex agave character. Its preparation blends 2 ounces of reposado with a ¾ ounce of sweet vermouth and a ½ ounce of the Italian aperitif Cynar. Once again, this is another opportunity to instead reach for PATRÓN Añejo, which will seamlessly complement the brandied cocktail cherry garnish that infuses the drink with a hint of sweetness, and delivers an enjoyable treat at the bottom of the glass.
Before the night is out, make sure to mix a PATRÓN Extra Añejo Old Fashioned, which showcases the spirit’s decadent baking spice notes developed during carefully considered oak maturation. Rather than simply swapping the tequila in for whiskey, tweak the supporting ingredients to really highlight the tequila’s qualities. Use agave syrup instead of Demerara sugar (or simple syrup), and chili-based cocktail bitters alongside orange bitters to provide a hint of fiery spice.
Elevated Mexican Cooking
Shifting our focus from the bar to the kitchen, it is time to explore authentic, elevated culinary options.
While commonly enjoyed as a taco filling, carne asada (grilled steak) can provide the main event in its own right. Prior to firing up the grill there are some important considerations, like which cut to choose and how to season it.
Flank and skirt steak are popular choices that offer intense beef flavor, though the latter contains tougher muscle fibers. Marinating in advance helps tenderize the meat, but with both cuts it’s also crucial to boosting the flavor profile.
Over the course of a few hours, a simple mix of yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, Mexican lager, and any preferred spices (garlic, cumin, black pepper, and ancho chili pepper are a natural fit) will elevate the steak’s character. For more specific information on quantities and method, the popular Cocinando con Angel YouTube channel covers the marinade in great detail. Finally, consider accompanying the meat on the grill (or in a large cast iron pan) with scallions, green peppers, and white onions; finish with a squeeze of lime juice and serve with authentic green salsa — tacos optional!
Of course, Cinco de Mayo does not coincide with grilling season everywhere. For a heartier option that warms the soul as much as the body, look no further than pozole rojo. The dish represents the height of Mexican comfort food, and as Mely Martínez notes in “The Mexican Home Kitchen,” “is usually prepared for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions.”
The soup/stew hybrid combines braised pork, hominy beans, and a rich, complex chili-based broth. Served with shredded cabbage, minced onions, sliced breakfast radishes, and — of course — fresh lime and cilantro, it is an incredibly wholesome one-bowl meal.
Let the Pros Do It for You
Not everyone has access to a well-stocked bar cart or the time to plan and prepare intricate dishes. But that doesn’t mean a perfect Cinco de Mayo celebration is out of the picture. More than ever, this year is a great opportunity to support local restaurants, and it’s easy to indulge in the theme of exploration and elevation by ordering beyond your tried and trusted go-to dishes.
On the drinks side, help is also at hand from the pros. This year, PATRÓN is putting Cinco in your hands by collaborating with celebrity tattoo artist JonBoy to offer a cocktail kit brimming with all the ingredients necessary to raise a celebratory glass.
Inspired by the shared levels of passion, dedication, and attention to detail involved in crafting world-class tequila and intricate tattoo designs, the customizable cocktail kits offer a brilliant new take on the Margarita, all delivered to your door.
Each kit includes PATRÓN Silver, pineapple juice, fresh limes, agave nectar, smoked paprika, and smoked sea salt, with enough ingredients for eight or 16 drinks. The kits also include limited-edition accessories such as engraved stainless-steel straws, coasters featuring JonBoy’s exclusive designs, and a selection of eight cocktail toppers that also highlight the tattoo artist’s signature style.
No matter where you are this year or who you’re celebrating with, a fantastic Cinco de Mayo celebration awaits.
This article is sponsored by PATRÓN.
Published: April 28, 2021