The ultimate Cinco de Mayo cocktail list

Crack out your tequila and your mescal: it’s time to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. While many may think of Cinco De Mayo as Mexican Independence Day, it isn’t. The day actually commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on (you guessed it) May 5, 1862.

Then again, if this thought has never crossed your mind, you’re still in the right place, as we’ve compiled a list of some of the best mescal and tequila cocktails out there to celebrate to holiday. We’ve got everything from historically-accurate cocktails for the history buffs, to riffs on the classic margarita, to punches for the whole party.

Before we get to the drinks, though, if you’re set on going out and partying this Cinco, check out these quick tips from Derrick Turner, head bartender at Harding’s, in order to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

  1. Never use salt and lime when taking a shot. Just take the shot. Please don’t hassle us for it. If you’re taking a shot of something of great quality, especially a pure 100% agave tequila like 1800 Silver, the salt and lime will mask the delicious flavors of the tequila, and the salt actually makes the experience more bitter. Trust in the flavor profile.
  2. Don’t ask me to make your drink stronger. When creating cocktails, they are formulated to taste a certain way. If you want me to make it double, ask for double and know you’re going to get charged for a double.

(You can also check out a spicy take on the Moscow Mule, created by Derrick, here.)

Watermelon Paloma

  • 2 parts Hornitos Plata Tequila
  • 1 part watermelon juice
  • ¾ part agave syrup
  • ¾ part fresh lime juice
  • 1 part seltzer
  • Handful cilantro
  • Paprika sea salt (for garnish)
  •  Watermelon wedge (for garnish)

Method: Add all ingredients except seltzer into a mixing glass and shake vigorously. Add seltzer and double strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a cilantro sprig, watermelon wedge and rim the glass with paprika sea salt.

Spiked Lemonade

Method: Add all ingredients together. Garnish with lemon wheel and enjoy!

Cucumber Chili Margarita 

  • 2 cups Sauza Cucumber Chili Tequila
  • 1 cup DeKuyper Triple Sec Liqueur
  • 2 cups Fresh Lemon Sour
  • Juice of whole limes
  • Cucumber slices

Method: Mix all ingredients in an ice-filled pitcher. Serve in margarita glasses rimmed with chili salt and garnish with a thin slice of cucumber. Serves eight.

The Reform War

  • 1 oz. El Silencio Espadin
  • 1 oz. English Harbour Rum(or any English Style Rum)
  • .5 oz. Giffard Creme de Banana
  • .5 oz. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
  • .5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • Dash Angostura Bitters

Method: Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with nutmeg.

The Salty Chihuahua

  • 1.5 oz. Herradura Silver Tequila
  •  .5 oz. Cointreau
  •  .75 oz. Fresh lime juice
  •  .25 oz. Agave Nectar
  •  1.5 oz. grapefruit juice

Method: add all ingredients except Grapefruit juice to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pour over fresh ice into high ball glass with salted rim. Top with 1.5 oz. Fresh Grapefruit juice and Angostura Bitters. Garnish with a half-moon lime wheel and pinch of salt.

Related: Specialty Cocktails for National Tequila Day

Rosa Picante Margarita

Created by Jordan Corney, Bohanan’s, San Antonio. (Pictured.)

  • 2 oz Patrón Silver
  • 0.5 oz Patrón Citrónge Lime
  • 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • .5 oz ginger syrup
  • Bar spoon jalapeño oil
  • Dash rosewater
  • Rose petal sea salt

Method: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe that has been half-rimmed with rose sea salt, and top with a dash of rose water. Garnish with a rose petal, if available.

The Jalapeño Paloma

  • 1oz Peligroso Silver
  •  5oz Grapefruit Juice
  • Sliced Jalapeño
  •  Ice

Method: Pour grapefruit juice into a pint glass. Add ice and 1oz Peligroso® Silver. Slice and add jalapeño to taste. Sip and salud! Serves four to five.

French Occupation

  • 2 oz. El Silencio Espadin
  • 1 oz. Ginger Syrup
  • .75 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • .25 oz Crème de Cassis

Method: Shake with ice & Strain over ice into highball glass. Top with soda water and float crème de cassis.

Blueberry Basil Margarita

Method: Muddle blueberries and basil with Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila. Add remaining ingredients. Shake with ice and serve over fresh ice (do not strain). Garnish with basil leaf float. Add dash of filtered water for more liquid.

El Coco Doble

  • 2 oz. 1800 Coconut
  • The Juice of 1 Whole Lime
  • 3⁄4 oz. Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
  • 1⁄2 oz. Simple Syrup

Method: Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with spent lime shell.

Midori Margarita

  • 1 part Midori Melon Liqueur
  • 1 1/2 parts Sauza Signature Blue Silver Tequila
  • 2/3 part Fresh Lime Juice
  • Salt
  • Lime Wheel, for garnish

Method: Pour Sauza tequila, Midori and fresh lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake well. Rim a chilled cocktail/tumbler/rocks glass with salt. Strain the shaken cocktail into the glass, top with ice and garnish with a lime wheel. 

Santera Margarita

  • 2 oz Santera Reposado Tequila
  • 75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 75 oz Combier
  • 25 oz Cointreau

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Serve in a cocktail glass. 

And for those of you celebrating Cinco De Derby a little early (or extending your Cinco fiestas to Saturday, as everyone should—because fiesta), here you go:

Jalisco Julep

  • 2 oz. Casamigos Añejo Tequila
  • 25 oz. Simple syrup
  • 8-10 Mint leaves
  • Garnish with mint sprig

Method: Add ingredients into julep glass or tumbler. Muddle mint. Add Casamigos. Fill glass with crushed ice. Add metal swizzle spoon / straw. Stir. Add more ice to give a cone shaped top. Garnish with mint sprig.