Cinco de Mayo is the perfect reason to enjoy a favorite Mexican meal, but what exactly is the holiday all about?
Cinco de Mayo—the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Although the holiday is not widely celebrated in Mexico, it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in the United States, particularly in communities with large Mexican-American populations. (Mexican Independence Day is different, and falls on September 16.)
Traditional Cinco de Mayo festivities range from parades and street festivals to mariachi music performances, yet the easiest way to create an impromptu celebration of your own is with a Mexican-themed meal. The following Margarita recipe offers a fitting, adult-friendly accompaniment to a meal of tacos or fajitas. The unique recipe is equally well suited to summer grill fare, and I’ve mixed many batches over the years to serve at casual backyard cookouts.
Though the ingredients aren’t entirely traditional, the flavor is spot on and always well liked. I do, however, want to stress a few critical points. Most importantly, the taste may be smooth, but the drink does contain hard alcohol. Keep this in mind when serving guests, start with an appropriate size glass, and fill it with lots of ice first. Also, inform your guests that this drink contains beer so that anyone with a gluten allergy or intolerance will know to avoid it. That said, this recipe can be made with a gluten-free beer—there are an increasing number of good options available.
The use of tequila makes a non-alcoholic replica of this drink difficult. As with any get-together where alcohol is served, if there’s a speck of doubt as to one’s ability to drive, enlist a friend, hail a taxi, or get Uber. 😊
Yield: 48 ounces… 8 (6-ounce) or 12 (4-ounce) servings
- 1 (12-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate (thawed but cold)
- 12 ounces tequila
- 6 ounces Sprite* (could use 7-Up or Sierra Mist)
- 6 ounces cold water
- 12 ounces beer (Corona Light or Bud Lime are good options, but use your favorite)
- Lots of ice
- 2 limes, sliced or cut into wedges
- Optional: kosher salt for rim of glasses
Pour the limeade, tequila, Sprite, water and beer into a large glass pitcher. Stir with a long-handled spoon.
If using salt, sprinkle it into a wide, shallow bowl, and then swipe around the rim of each serving glass with a lime wedge. Dip the glass in the salt to lightly coat the rim.
Fill the glass with ice before adding the margarita mixture. Garnish with a lime wedge. Leftovers freeze well and will become slushy-like. As such, they may be served as a frozen margarita.
- * The small amount of soda adds just a hint of sweetness. I have tried these with the whole (12-ounce) can of Sprite and no water but prefer the water-soda mix.
On the gluten-free subject, my sister-in-law recently told me that Corona and Corona Light are gluten-free. Skeptical, I did some research. It turns out that both of these beers have been tested to under 20ppm (parts per million). Since the level of gluten falls under 20ppm, they are gluten-free according to the FDA. Yet beer is made with barley (Corona is made from both barley and rice), and barley contains gluten. Therefore, it can’t be labeled as gluten-free. It’s an interesting conundrum. If this could potentially affect you or one of your guests, you may wish to do your own research or err on the side of caution
And did you know?
The earliest margaritas were made in a rigged soft-serve ice-cream machine. In 1971, Mariano Martinez used the machine to blend a prefabricated mix stored in a Spackle bucket and create the beverage.
History facts sources: History.com, Wall Street Journal