The Mexican army’s victory over the French Empire at Puebla in 1862 was notable to Mexico in its quest for nationhood, but not the usual sort of thing that would attract anyone else’s attention. Unless you factor in the date: May 5.
Cinco de Mayo has become the de facto day of celebration across the borders of many nations to acknowledge Mexico as a sovereign member of the world community.
But May 5 is not Independence Day to the Mexican people, who practically ignore the party possibilities of the fifth day of the fifth month. There is, of course, a true national holiday celebrating Mexican independence.
On Sept. 16, 1810, in the town of Dolores, Grito de Dolores, the Cry of Dolores, a priest rang the church bell as a signal to begin the revolution, which ended with Mexico’s independence from Spain ten years later. The very same bell is still used today at the National Palace, Mexico City, in annual re-enactments.
Still, why let the details of history get in the way of a good celebration? Americans seem to prefer Cinco de Mayo as a time to go south-of-the-Rio Grande native, and so we load up on cerveza, tequila, mezcal, salsa, guacamole, tamales, tacos, and chips. Crank up the mariachi music and let’s get this festival rolling.
The whole scene is reminiscent of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland with the Irish not caring or celebrating all that much, and with Americans (okay, New Orleanians) throwing cabbages, carrots, and potatoes through every unprotected pane of glass. Whoopee!
If we have the temerity to commandeer a nation’s special day, then we had better do the action well and with pride. And that means, in New Orleans, replicating or creating special beverages. It has to start there, and then if noshing or snacking are involved, we can really show off. But first, the drinks.
This week I am also suggesting a possibly new ingredient in your cocktail efforts, an effervescent additive, Sparkling Ice, which comes in a variety of flavors, and can save you considerable preparation time as well as add interesting dimensions to your beverage creations.
Slim and Sparkling Margarita
- 3 oz Sparkling Ice Lemon Lime
- 1 ½ oz Tequila
- Splash of fresh squeezed orange
- Fresh squeezed lime
- Shake and pour into a chilled rocks glass rimmed in salt.
- Garnish with a lime slice.
Watermelon Ball Margarita
- 1.5 oz of tequila
- 1 lime (halved, one half cut in two wedges)
- 0.5 oz on Cointreau
- 1 oz of Sparking Ice Strawberry Watermelon
watermelon shot glasses:
- Scoop our watermelon balls with ice cream scooper.
- Cut slice on bottom to make flat.
- Use melon baller to scoop out insides.
- Add one scoop of watermelon to shaker using melon baller.
- Add lime wedges and Conintreau.
- Muddle together.
- Add tequila, juice from one-half lime, and ice.
- Shake and strain into measuring cup.
- Add Sparking Ice Strawberry Watermelon and pour into Watermelon Shot glass.
Triple Crown Lemonade
This one combines the spirit of Cinco de Mayo with the raciness of the Kentucky Derby, running this weekend, May 5.
- 2 parts Anejo Tequila
- 4 muddled Basil leaves
- Teaspoon Agave Syrup
- 2 parts Sparkling Ice Classic Lemonade
- Shake and pour over ice into Highball glass.
- Top with Sparkling Ice Classic Lemonade.
- Garnish with Basil leaf.
If, in your flavor trials, the Sparkling Ice seems overwhelming, or not whelming enough, adjust volume accordingly. Special thanks to Sparkling Ice, Preston, Washington for the drink recipes.
Summer is here. Chill!
Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine.