While Cinco de Mayo is considered to be a minor holiday at best in Mexico, it is widely celebrated in the United States. Now, this holiday does denote a major Mexican military victory that occurred on May 5th, when they handed a defeat to the French in the Battle of Puebla. Parts of the country celebrate with parades and re-enactments. But it’s usually used as an excuse to drink alcohol and eat tacos, at least north of the border.
Whatever the level of engagement, drinks are definitely a major part of the holiday. And these 12 Cinco de Mayo drinks will offer up a whole list of cocktails and mocktails to suit all sorts of tastes and preferences.
Difference Between a Cocktail and a Mocktail
Cocktails are mixed alcoholic beverages that incorporate multiple ingredients into a single-taste experience. There are all sorts of cocktails available. The standard breakdown is a single hard liquor, possibly a minor amount of a secondary liquor, and some mix-ins to add flavor over water or soda. Of course, there are all sorts of variants that use multiple liquors, wine, beer, etc. But not everybody chooses to or is permitted to, or even can drink alcohol. That’s where mocktails come into play.
Mocktails are also beverages that incorporate multiple ingredients into a single-taste experience, but they are crafted without any alcohol. Any proper mocktail has its own recipe and is mixed to produce a singular flavor as a result. There are plenty of Cinco de Mayo drink recipes that don’t involve any alcohol at all. So without alcohol, or with, these drinks are all crafted to taste just right of their own accord.
Cinco de Mayo Drinks with Tequila
Tequila is a staple alcohol in many drinks from Mexico. With the Cuervo family being the earliest to produce alcohol commercially back in the 1700s, it’s irrevocably tied to the region. In fact, the town of Jalisco is widely considered to be the home of tequila. Of course, this means that it is one of the most popular ingredients in many a Cinco de Mayo drink recipe. And there are plenty of staple drinks for the holiday. This list of Cinco de Mayo drinks with tequila offers plenty of options to try on May 5th.
While margarita mixes are readily available, and some are even quite good, nothing tops the flavor of a homemade margarita. This recipe offers a fantastic take on the classic margarita, made completely from scratch. The only way to make this recipe be more homemade would be actually distilling the blue agave right there at the house.
The name of the beer margarita is a bit misleading, to be fair. It isn’t a margarita just made with beer. It still contains tequila, like a proper margarita, but beer is an added ingredient. This one incorporates Corona, possibly the most well-known Mexican beer, for an added dimension. Another great thing about this drink is that it’s easy to make a whole pitcher, so it’s perfect for a crowd.
While the margarita is typically the first cocktail people come up with for tequila, it’s hardly the only option available. The tequila sunrise is another popular favorite. Known for its visual aesthetic, the red-to-gold ombre presents a striking picture. This makes for one of the best-looking Cinco de Mayo cocktails, hands down. Plus, the author presents a couple of really interesting twists on the standard recipe to pump things up even more.
The standard margarita typically comes in one of two varieties: “Rocks,” which is over ice, and “frozen,” where the ice is blended into the drink to make a kind of alcoholic slushy. Of course, the most popular variant margarita option is strawberries. The first frozen entry on this list has strawberries and also brings in other berries for a refreshing, fruity flavor. And using frozen berries helps make for a really slushy, tasty drink.
Of course, every margarita doesn’t need to be made with orange and lime juices. This one brings in strawberries and jalapenos for a really interesting drink. Additionally, this recipe is vegan and gluten-free, to make it more accessible to people under various dietary restrictions. It’s a great Cinco de Mayo margarita recipe for people who want something a bit different. The blend of sweetness and spiciness makes for a really interesting drink.
Now technically, this one isn’t made with tequila, exactly. But Mezcal is still pretty equivalent. Basically mezcal to tequila = scotch to whiskey. And this mixed drink incorporates Guajillo chiles for a spicy, peppery taste. For anyone looking for really unique Cinco de Mayo drink ideas, this is a great option.
Cinco de Mayo Drinks without Tequila
Now, not all drinks for this holiday absolutely must have tequila, even though the majority of them do. In fact, there are plenty of classic Cocktail recipes for Cinco de Mayo without tequila, for those who just aren’t big fans of the agave-distilled drink.
A Michelada is a classic Mexican drink that centers around beer as the main alcoholic ingredient. This sets it apart from most cocktails since it isn’t based on hard liquor. But this recipe is very easy to make and really customizable. This is great because it’s traditionally a bit spicy, and that’s one of those qualities that varies wildly from person to person. Some might find it too spicy, and some might not find it spicy enough. But there are options for as much or as little spiciness as you want. Protip- use a favorite Mexican beer for a more authentic Michelada.
Another non-tequila-based beverage, the Mojito leans toward white rum as its staple. Actually originating in South America, it has definitely migrated to Mexico as well, and even across that border to become a popular drink in the United States. A few things set this drink apart from a more classic mojito. One is that it brings in blood oranges for great color and flavor. Another thing is that it keeps things vegan, in deference to those who have dietary concerns.
Cinco de Mayo Mocktails
As mentioned earlier, mocktails are basically just non-alcoholic cocktails. But the best mocktails aren’t just cocktails with the liquor removed. In many cases, this will result in a drink that tastes like it’s missing something. A true mocktail is a drink unto itself, with a recipe developed to taste good with or without liquor. And these Cinco de Mayo mocktails are designed to be perfect for the holiday.
The standard Paloma is a classic Mexican cocktail, based around tequila. This mocktail variant is made with just two ingredients, so it tops the list of easy Cinco de Mayo drinks. And it results in a tasty, bubbly drink that is quite refreshing.
An agua fresca is a fruit-based drink that offers a lot of potential variations. Lots of extra fruit pulp make it almost similar to a smoothie, although it’s a bit more watery than a traditional smoothie. This particular variety is mango-based, using whole mangoes, peeled and pitted for a lot of pulp. Add in some lime juice plus a few other ingredients for a really smooth drink with a bit of tartness that goes down perfectly during warmer weather.
As mentioned previously, many mocktails based on classic cocktails can come off feeling like they are missing something. This mocktail, however, was carefully crafted to bring the classic flavor as accurately as possible while not containing any liquor whatsoever. For anyone looking to avoid alcohol, this tops the list of best mocktails for Cinco de Mayo.
This drink was born from the author’s love of watermelon margaritas, balanced with the need to serve a nonalcoholic drink to her kids. She developed this watermelon jalapeno mocktail as a sweet, spicy alcohol-free drink to serve to anybody. And for the faint of palate, it’s only a little spicy; just enough to make things interesting. Also, sparkling water adds a little bubbly touch to things.
Enjoy the Holiday with these Cinco de Mayo Drinks
And there we have it. A whole slate of recipes to make and serve on Cinco de Mayo. Whether alcohol-free or completely loaded, there’s something here to please anyone. Many can even be prepared en masse in a pitcher, for less work overall. So the next Cinco de Mayo is practically taken care of. Now it’s time to find some tacos.