6 Cinco de Mayo Cocktails That Blow Away Your Usual Margaritas

By Tommy Werner |

© Tina Rupp

First thing’s first: Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican day of independence. It recognizes a symbolic but not game-changing ‪battle ‪during the Franco-Mexican War, and is mostly celebrated with pitchers of watery margs and piles of stale chips at bars throughout the US.

As we’ve all heard, a nationwide shortage has led to limes as small as Ping-Pong balls and prices higher than Cardón cacti, so this is a great time to try drinking something new for the holiday. ‪Here, six fun Cinco de Mayo spots across the country and their best Mexican cocktail ideas, from strawberry-basil (and tequila) wine-tails to simple and smoky mezcal-and-Cokes.

‪Copita; San Francisco

They're celebrating all weekend at Copita. The May 4 special at this modern Mexican spot is a Hot Lips margarita with chile árbol tincture, lemon juice, Cointreau and blanco tequila. They recommend it with spicy duck carnitas tacos.

Café El Presidente; New York

On Monday, this new multitasking restaurant (cafe/juice bar/tortilla factory) ‪will invite guests to dress up as soldiers from the French or the Mexican armies and drinks lots of grapefruit-based Palomas and mezcal–heavy Smoked Cokes.

Gracias Madre; Los Angeles

‪La Belleza margarita at this vegan and organic Mexican restaurant blends rosé wine, Highland Tequila Blanco and a strawberry-basil shrub (tangy, concentrated mixers

Sazerac; Seattle

Chef Jason McClure came up with the fizzy Kombucharita, which he calls his “Country-Farm-Blue-Ribbon-Winner:” Mango-ginger kombucha, shaken with lemon juice, Cointreau and tequila, served up in a lowball rocks glass. (If trying this at home, keep in mind that kombucha can be explosive, so keep paper towels handy.)

Bar Amá; Los Angeles

‪Chef Josef Centeno and general manager Genevieve Hardison collaborated on the Juan Collins, a smoky send-up of the Tom Collins using mezcal, lemon, soda and agave.

El Vez; Philadelphia and New York

Stephen Starr’s  modern Mexican cantinas serve mezcal martinis, with Dolin Blanc vermouth and Fidencio Unico mezcal. The recipe uses grapefruit bitters for citrusy punch.

Related: Cinco De Mayo Recipes 
15 Second Cocktail: El Shandy Mixes Beer and Mezcal 
Modern Mexican Restaurants