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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Cocktail Recipes, Finishing Touches, and Food

Aruba Ariba Cocktail, Finishing Touches & The Art of Garnishing the Cocktail, photo: Doug Young for Finishing Touches

Before taking that first sip or bite, sink your teeth into the history of Cinco de Mayo.
You’ll be the champion and star of the annual homage to Mexico and it’s celebrated food and drink.

Know this: Cinco de Mayo originated in the Mexican state of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862. The win in Puebla represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement eventually leading to France withdrawing from Mexico.

Cinco de Mayo has evolved from a salute to brave warriors, to an ever-elevated salute to the extraordinary Mexican cuisine and its distilled beverages — especially the country’s incomparable signature tequilas, mezcal, and chile liqueurs.

Say margarita and the brand Patrón Tequila is the name that most readily comes to mind for discerning drinkers. For good reason. Patrón is the global leader in the 100 percent Weber Blue agave ultra-premium tequila category, crafting a crisp, flavorful spirit, marked by hints of floral notes yet is still made in small batches in the Highlands in Jalisco, Mexico. Plus, this tequila brand most definitely knows how to throw a party! And for this year’s Cinco de Mayo, Patrón Tequila started the party planning on National Margarita Day – (too perfect, right?) – back in February; with the company launching a global search for 2016’s “Margarita of the Year.” Working with talented mixologists and bartenders in the US and Mexico to create recipes for seven distinct styles of margaritas — herbal, spicy, smoky (this Examiner’s favorite), savory, modern, tropical and classic – while respecting the unique heritage of the classic Margarita cocktail, the brand conducted a series of scheduled regional events with a final showdown of the three top favorites (spicy, smoky and modern) — and finally, with more than 50,000 votes cast, the company crowned the Coralina Margarita – created by Mexico City bartender Riesler Morales – as the 2017 “Margarita of the Year.”

Morales wanted to craft a cocktail that had the simplicity and elegance of a classic Margarita, yet the interesting and unexpected ingredients that married so nicely with Patrón tequila. The Coralina Margarita was inspired by an ocean sunset, combining the oaky notes of Patrón Reposado, perfectly balanced with the citrusy flavors of Patrón Citrónge Orange, together with red wine and hibiscus.

Photo courtesy of Patrón Tequila

Coralina Margarita

Created by Riesler Morales of Mexico City, Mexico

1.75 oz Patrón Reposado

.75 oz Patrón Citrónge Orange

.75 oz Simple syrup

1 oz Fresh lime juice

.5 oz Red Wine (Mexican, or other)

+ Sugar-salt rim*

*Sugar-salt rim:

Pulverize .25 cup dried hibiscus in a spice grinder. Add .25 cup sugar and .25 cup kosher salt and pulse until combined.

1. Combine Patrón Reposado, Patrón Citrónge Orange, simple syrup and lime juice in a shaker tin; add ice and shake vigorously.

2. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe rimmed with sugar-salt rim.*

3. Carefully float red wine on the surface of the cocktail and garnish with a lime wheel.

Patron at your Door

Did you just wish for margaritas delivered to you? Well dreams come true. Courtesy of Patrón.

Patrón is doing a bunch of fun things this year – most notably, providing cocktail kit deliveries with everything you need for a Cinco bash – including a mariachi band for lucky recipients!

Photo courtesy of Patrón Tequila

So how do you get a party delivery?

On May 5th, Tweet #PatronMyCinco to purchase a Patrón Party in a Box (available in select cities, including New York, Chicago ) delivered straight to your doorstep within an hour of purchase. Select fans in each city will have a live mariachi band — in Gotham it will be the NYC Mariachi troubadours – show up to complete your Cinco de Mayo party!

The Patrón Party in a Box includes ingredients to make the newly-crowned Patrón Margarita of the Year – the Coralina Margarita (reposado tequila, hibiscus and red wine), Patrón branded shaker, cups, napkins, chips and salsa.


Mezcal has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing spirits over the past several years.

Choosing the right mezcal for you may be tricky, but if you’re looking for an authentic Mexican spirit with an approachable and complex taste, look no further than Montelobos Mezcal. Made in Mexico, Montelobos Mezcal is a mezcal created in collaboration by world-renowned agave spirits expert Iván Saldaña and five generations of Lopez family mezcaleros using the finest, 100% organic agave espadin. The result is a mezcal with a balanced smoke that shifts between chili and dark chocolate. While Montelobos can be enjoyed neat, its complexity makes it an excellent cocktail companion.

A Montelobos Mezcal Ambassador, Camille Austin’s knowledge and enthusiasm for innovative cocktails play a complementary role to brand creator Iván Saldaña. Together, they set out to share the unique taste and versatility of Montelobos Mezcal and the artistry behind agave.

The below flavorful and festive cocktail recipes include Montelobos Mezcal and another authentic Mexican spirit, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, and are the perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Ancho Reyes was born from the sacred earth of Puebla and with a recipe dating back to 1927, Ancho Reyes is the original chile liqueur. Ancho Reyes Verde, launched just in 2016 to much acclaim, also derives from the poblano chile like Original, but some slight tweaks in the production process results in a wildly different flavor profile.

Puebla and poblano are inextricably linked – the peppers are named after the citizens who refer to themselves as poblanos. “Ancho chiles are widely considered a culinary delicacy and Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur is created using Puebla’s signature crop,” reports Camille Austin, the celebrated Mexican mixologist. He continues, “Pleasantly sweet, followed by the moderate heat from the chile, Ancho Reyes is delicious in all types of cocktails.

Pair your rajas — a savory Mexican dish — with robust cocktails that can stand up to the food.

Juan to Juan

1 part Montelobos Mezcal

1 part Ancho Reyes Original

¾ part fresh lemon juice

½ part simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters – or homemade bitters or Fee Brothers bitters

Shake, serve in a coupe glass, garnish with a lemon wheel

Ancho Verde Margarita

1 part Milagro Silver Tequila

1 part Ancho Reyes Verde

1 part Fresh Lime Juice

1/3 part Agave Nectar

Add all ingredients to a shaker, add ice, shake hard and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass with half its rim salted. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Montelobos Picador

2 parts Montelobos Mezcal

1 part fresh lime juice

½ part simple syrup

Combine ingredients over ice and shake well. Serve over fresh ice in a rocks glass with a salt & black pepper rim and orange slice.

Mexican cuisine is as diverse and rich as the country’s landscape, thanks to its wealth of regional ingredients and deep roots in ancient civilizations and traditions. In the southern state of Oaxaca, the cuisine is defined by two staple ingredients: mezcal and insects. Here, mezcal is not only a drink, but a source of pride and a foundation of cultural identity.

Cricket Cuisine – Photo courtesy of Meutia Chaerani / Indradi Soemardjan

The Museum of Food and Drink, in partnership with the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, invites you to the first event in our Spring Spirits​ ​series. Join us for an evening of Oaxacan food and drink to usher in Cinco de Mayo. ​Danny Mena, one of New York’s top Mexican chefs, will talk ​about the production of mezcal, its diversity of flavors, and the important role insects have played in Mexican cuisine long before guacamole with grasshoppers appeared on American restaurant menus.

A reception featuring different varieties of mezcal and insect-forward antojitos provided by Casa Mezcal will follow.

Insects, cricket cuisine not your thing?

Al Horno Kitchen is a growing Mexican Food chain dedicated to providing customers with Mexican food with what they say is a healthy twist.

Traditional Mexican flavors have been fused into healthy options that include new ingredients, no frying or oil, a gluten free menu, antibiotics and hormone free steak, an innovative juice bar and more.

Leading up to Cinco De Mayo, Al Horno Kitchen be offering $4.44 Burritos to all of its customers during lunch hour. You can find more info on their locations and promotion times on the Al Horno Facebook page

The NYC Al Horno locations include:
Hell’s Kitchen 212-977-1000
417 West 47th Street New York, NY 10036

Midtown East 212-546-9316
1089 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10022

Gramercy 646-964-5183
36 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 10010

East Village 646-609-3762
57 1st Ave New York, NY 10003

Financial District
110 Pearl Street New York, NY 10005

Alternatively – you can’t enjoy better Mexican food anywhere than at Empellón. The James Beard Award winning chef, Alex Stupak recently opened his fourth dining emporium in Midtown, NYC. I met friends there to dine right after it opened having reviewed and enjoyed his menu at the other locations downtown. Chef Alex came to our table and we were brimming with praise. I’ll do a full review once Chef Alex and the team have a bit more time under their belt. In the meantime, Cinco de Mayo is a great excuse to get yourself a reservation and go to Mexican heaven while dipping the homemade chips into fabulous, spiced sauces.

And Yellow Beets with Coconut Crema and Green Chile Ice — that’s an ice infused chile that is the most curious and incredible taste! Crazy good. More details in a future post.

How to celebrate healthy Cinco de Mayo on a budget at home

Skip the sour cream. Skip the sugary mixers. Take a look at some health snacks and party ideas, and don’t worry, it still involves alcohol.

Enjoy a festive nacho bar with half the calories for you and your friends by having low-calorie toppings such as beans, tomatoes, quinoa, spinach and ground turkey.

Create your own calorie-friendly True Lime Frozen Margarita or True Lime Mojito.

Each True Citrus True Lime packet equals the taste of 1 lime wedge and is made with only 3 ingredients. It has 0 calories, 0g of sugar and no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors.

Finishing Touches using Herbs and Spices
Courtesy of the Spice & Tea Exchange:

Lime Frost Sea Salt – was pretty much ‘born to rim’ classic Margaritas. A tangy hint of lime in a crunchy coarse salt stylishly smooths tequila’s bite.

Chipotle Smoked Sea Salt – This is perfect if Ancho, Chipotles, Poblanos, or any other smoky chili pepper is on your menu. The smoky-aromatic hint in the salt will turn that tart tequila concoction into a mellow, fruitier experience.

Coconut Sugar with Chardonnay Oak Smoked Sea Salt – Tropical or fruit flavored margaritas, like peach and mango, beg for this rim! 2 parts sweet to 1 part (or less) salt gives you a sweet tropical hit of coconut with a gentle note of smoke and salt.

Ghost Pepper Sea Salt and Brazilian Petite Sea Salt– This rim brings fire to the fiesta! Grind 3 parts Brazilian Petite Sea Salt with 1 part Ghost Pepper Sea Salt for the ultimate hot &; salty rim!

Habanero Sugar, Lemon Sugar & Raspberry Sugar – Who says rimmers have to be salty? Add tangy, spicy and/or fruity sweet to your rims with these flavorful sugars.


Photo courtesy Spice & Tea 

Mix desired salt(s) and sugar(s) on a saucer or plate for rimming. Ensure that the mixture covers an area larger in diameter than the rim of your glass.

Moisten rim of glass with a slice of lime.

Rim glass by turning moistened rim in salt/sugar mixture. – See more at:

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