SAN DIEGO, May 2, 2014 – Cinco de Mayo has spread from the American Southwest across the entire U.S. Most people are completely unaware of its origins and meaning. It’s simply a good excuse to celebrate and enjoy Mexican culture, food and, especially, drink.
Other than champagne on New Year’s Eve, no beverage is more closely tied to a festive occasion than tequila on Cinco de Mayo. California is the number one state for tequila sales in the U.S., with Texas second and Florida third.
Tequila is the fastest growing spirit in sales, rising 6 percent over the past 10 years. This is double the growth of all other alcohols, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, a trade group based in Washington, D.C.
Tequila is named for the Mexican town where it originates. It is made from the blue agave plant. Much like wine grapes, the flavor of the agave can change under different soil or growing conditions. Under strict standards set by the Mexican government, tequila must be produced from no less than 51 percent high-quality blue agave and from a specific area. More than 10 miles outside this area, and the spirit is called mezcal.
There are four basic categories of tequila: tequila blanco, white or silver (plata) tequila which is clear and not aged; gold tequila, which is silver tequila with flavoring and coloring added; tequila reposado, tequilas aged or “reposed” (rested) for at least two months to one year in oak tanks or barrels; and añejo tequilas, aged in barrels a minimum of one year.
Ms. Tipit here knows a thing or two about tequila. While I prefer drinking mine straight like a fine scotch (Fortaleza Reposado please), I enjoy a bracing classic margarita, no salt.
To help you celebrate, here is the Communities Official Top 10 Tequila Drinks for your Cinco de Mayo enjoyment.
The Original Margarita
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila
- 1/2 ounce triple sec
- Lemon or lime juice
- 3 ounces sour mix
- Lime wedge for garnish
- Salt or sugar to rim the glass (optional)
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. If desired, salt (or sugar) the rim of a chilled margarita or highball glass. Pour contents, with ice, into the glass. Garnish with the lime.
Blended version: Pour the liquid ingredients into a blender and add 1 cup crushed ice. Blend to your preferred consistency.
Fruit version: In addition to the liquid ingredients and the crushed ice, add one half to one cup of your favorite fresh or frozen fruit. Adjust the fruit and ice to get the consistency you prefer.
For serious drinkers only who wouldn’t ever think of having a drink watered down by blending it with ice or letting a silly umbrella get in the way.
- 1 ½ ounces premium reposada or anejo tequila (don’t go cheap, you’ll regret it)
- ½ ounce Cointreau
- ½ ounce Grand Marnier
- 1 ounce lime juice
- Salt if desired
- Lime squeeze (garnish)
Rim a margarita or highball glass with lime and coat with salt if desired. Next, fill the glass with ice and set aside. In a shaker with ice combine tequila, Cointreau and lime juice. Shake well a strain into the glass. Float the Grand Marnier on top, and squeeze the lime and drop it in.
- 2 ounce tequila
- 1 teaspoon horseradish
- 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
- 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- dash of lime juice
- 3 dashes celery salt
- 3 dashes pepper
- Tomato juice
- All optional: 1 ounce clam juice; dash of sherry; 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Add the ingredients in a highball glass over ice cubes. Top with tomato juice. Mix well by pouring from one glass to another. Garnish with a lemon and/or lime wedge and the classic celery stalk.
This is one of Mexico’s most popular cocktails year round, a fizzy favorite in warm weather and one of the smoothest tequila drinks. Pick a blanco style tequila. If you use a diet soda, you’ll keep the calorie count down.
- 2 ounces blanco or reposado tequila
- 6 ounces fresh grapefruit soda (regular or diet)
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- Salt (optional)
Rim the glass with salt if desired. Fill the glass with ice and add the tequila and lime juice. Top it off with grapefruit soda.
This is the traditional Tom Collins with tequila. Use a high quality plata or silver tequila and the best fresh lemon juice for the best Juan Collins.
- 3 parts plata or silver tequila
- 1 part lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- 6 parts club soda
Pour the tequila, lemon juice, and sugar into a Collins glass with ice cubes. Stir thoroughly, and top with club soda.
Sure, it’s straight out of the ’70s, but there’s a reason the Tequila sunrise is still around. It tastes great, it looks good in the glass and it’s easy to mix. It was reportedly first served in the beach resorts of Cancun and Acapulco in the 1950s to tourists who brought the recipe home.
- 4 ounces orange juice
- 2 ounces tequila
- 1/2 ounce grenadine
- Orange slice for garnish
- Maraschino cherry for garnish
Pour the tequila and the orange juice into a highball glass with ice cubes. Stir. Slowly pour the grenadine around the inside edge of the glass. It will sink and slowly rise to mix with the other ingredients naturally. Garnish with the orange slice and cherry.
A refreshing alternative if you like something a little less sweet than a traditional margarita.
- 3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 4 teaspoon sugar
- 12 large fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup blanco or reposado tequila
- 1/4 cup club soda
In a highball glass, mix lime juice, sugar, and mint. Mash mint leaves with the back of a spoon until the sugar dissolves. Fill the glass with ice. Add tequila and club soda; stir to blend.
This drink combines tequila with Mexico’s other famous contribution to cocktail hour, Kahlua or coffee liqueur.
- 2 ounces tequila
- 1 ounce Kahlua or coffee liqueur
Pour the tequila and Kahlua into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes. Stir well.
From sunny San Diego, Ms. Tipit wishes you a happy and above all a safe Cinco de Mayo. Salud!
DISCLAIMER: In this litigious, risk-averse society, we must pause here to admonish anyone reading this column that it is strictly for entertainment purposes ONLY. Please drink responsibly if at all.
Please do not be a dunderhead and drink and tweet/post/drive, or you will never be able to run for public office.
The Communities implores you to “Please, always, drink responsibly. Do not drink if you are pregnant. Do not drink and drive. Do not drink if you are underage.”
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is president/owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, Calif,, and a serious tequila connoisseur. Read her regular columns Ringside Seat and Media Migraine. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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