Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Most people will be celebrating early since the 5th of May is a Monday, so I figured I’d post this early as well.
As with most holidays, I always wonder how they started and what they really mean. As I dug into the history of this one, I was surprised and learned quite a bit.
Most people tend to think this holiday commemorates Mexico’s Independence Day, but that is not true. Mexico’s independence day is actually September 16th, not May 5th. The 5th of May is the day a Mexican city won a huge battle with the French. For a great 2-minute video, check out the History Channel.
In 1861, Mexico was so far in debt to so many countries that the president Benito Juarez declared that they could not pay back any countries they owed. This made the French super mad, and they invaded. Good cheese isn’t cheap, you know.
So the French rampaged across Mexico, winning battle after battle. Then on May 5, 1862, in the state of Puebla, the Mexicans finally defeated the French, despite being less prepared, not well trained or equipped, and outnumbered 2:1 on the battlefield!
The French quickly regrouped and eventually took Mexico City, but that euphoria of an unlikely victory tasted sweet. Just like a cold margarita. The victory was so inspiring, American generals began using it as “inspiration for the Union struggle in the Civil War”. (*All quotes from the History Channel video mentioned above)
Mexican-Americans, and Americans of all kind, took to remembering that battle every May 5th with food, drinks, parades, dancing, game, and bullfights (from About.com “Cinco de Mayo – the Basics“). Over time, the holiday died down in most of Mexico, except in Puebla where the battle was originally won. However, north of the border we never got out of the habit, and Cinco de Mayo is still celebrated every year with margaritas, Meixcan food, and other festivities. And now you know the “surprisingly American history behind this Mexican holiday”.
So to celebrate these brave Mexican fighters who didn’t want their tacos replaced with baguettes, make yourself a big ol’ pitcher of these Margarita Spritzers! With less “extras” and sugar, this version of the lime classic is lower on calories but big on taste, and how hard it hits is up to how much tequila you pour!
This margarita requires NO triple sec, the source of most margarita’s zing and pucker, but it’s also a sugar bomb with calories galore. This is a super simple recipe, with endless customization choices.
- 1 oz gold tequila
- 1 oz simple syrup*
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 cup soda water (lemon-lime flavor is best)
- Salt for rimming if you like
- Fresh lime slices for garnish
Step 1: *Simple syrup – add 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 cups water to a pot. Bring to a gentle boil, or at least heat until all sugar is dissolved. Chill for ~1 hour.
Step 2: On two flat plates, pour onto one a tbsp lime juice and on the other some sea salt. Take a glass, and rub the rim in the juice. Then swirl it around in the salt so it sticks.
Step 3: In a shaker, combine (per drink) 1 oz tequila, 1 oz simple syrup, and 1 oz lime juice. Shake with ice until cold.
Step 4: Pour over ice in rimmed glass, and top with soda water. Stir and garnish as desired.
Try any juice you like in place of lime; cherry, pomegranate, strawberries. I’m a total purist and prefer simply lime over ice, but you can blend it if you must. Check out CookingChannel‘s list of top 20 Margarita Recipes for inspiration.
This 5th of May, raise a glass to those brave Mexicans who kept the French in France and enabled this long tradition of May festivity. ¡Que viva México!
What do you do on May 5th? Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Do you have any special margarita recipes I need to know about?