We like several kinds of Mexican beer, and frozen margaritas spewing out of repurposed frogurt machines have their place (for instance, roiling around in your belly the next day whilst giving you an epic hangover). But if you’re having people over to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, you’d score major puntos if you had other, more unique options.
So we asked master mixologist Steve Calabro for a few easy-to-make recipes. Why Steve? Because he creates cocktails for Los Angeles restaurant Red-O. And the drinks there are held to the same sky-high standards as the unbelievable Mexican food. (They also have a “tequila lounge,” which is as awesome as that sounds.) Andale!
Margaritas are great, but if you use cheap tequila and a store-bought mix, you’re going to wake up with a crushing hangover and/or in a diabetic coma. Instead, reduce the sugariness and increase the sabor with this picante twist.
• 2 oz. Tanteo jalapeno-infused tequila
• .5 oz. Triple Sec
• .5 oz. Veev acai berry liqueur
• About 8 leaves of fresh muddled mint
• Limeade to taste
LA SANGRE DE FRANCIA
No idea why you get blitzed every May 5th? In a nutshell, it’s to celebrate an unlikely Mexican military victory over the French. And since not everybody loves tequila, you can serve this drink made with — you guessed it — French vodka.
• 2 oz. Grey Goose Pear vodka
• 4 oz. Italian blood-orange soda (You can find it at Trader Joe’s and other retailers.)
• 1 squeeze from a lemon slice
Gin and lemonade go great together. And adding a sprig of rosemary is an easy way to both give the drink a little spice and make you look like you actually know what you’re doing.
• 2 oz. Beefeater 24 gin
• 4 oz. lemonade
• 1 sprig of Rosemary
NOT-TOO-FRUITY FRUITY MARGARITA
Fruity margaritas can be even more overpoweringly sweet than regular ones. So make them with fruit preserves instead of syrupy flavoring.
• 2 oz. Don Julio Blanco tequila
• 4 oz. lemonade
• 1 spoonful of fruit preserves (not jam or jelly)
SIDRA DE LA MULA
This last one was actually created by H. Joseph Ermann of San Francisco’s Elixir. It’s refreshing and won’t have you doing an embarrassing Mexican Hat Dance quite as quickly as the other cocktails.
• 1.5 oz. Espolon Tequila Blanco
• 12 oz. bottle of Sidral Mundet (If you don’t have a nearby Mexican grocery store that stocks the apple-flavored soda, you can substitute sparkling apple cider or ginger beer.)
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• 1 squeeze of a lemon slice