Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with great gusto in North America – but why and where did it come from? It is not Mexican Independence Day, as is often thought – that falls on September 16th – but, originally anyway, a commemoration of a single battle that occurred when France sent troops into Veracruz. A battalion of 2000 men, mostly of indigenous Mexican descent were gathered to fight the much better outfitted and prepared French army. The underdogs won and the shiny troops from France were sent packing which garnered a symbolic victory for Mexico.
While a nominal holiday within Mexico we to the north have embraced it fully with celebrations of Mexican culture, including of course food and beverages like Tequila. So what better way to get into Cinco de Mayo than with Margaritas at home with a couple of our favourite regular -drinking tequilas.
Tequila is arguably Mexico’s most popular export – tied with Tacos maybe? – and here in Alberta we are lucky to have many to choose from, but what makes tequila the special spirit that it is? Like Champagne and Scotch Tequila must come from specific areas in Mexico, mostly around the town of Tequila and it must be made from the Blue Agave plant. All Tequila is Mezcal but not all Mezcal is Tequila.
Of those classified as Tequila two of our favourites are the Jose Cuervo Tradicion Plata and Reposado. Jose Cuervo has been crafting tequila since 1758, and, well they know what they’re doing! The Tradicion line represents excellent value and quality that punches above it’s weight class.
Plata or Blanco, as it is sometimes called is strictly unaged tequila. The Blue Agave flavour is the main characteristic and while not as complex as other styles good Plata is easy to enjoy an excellent mixer for cocktails. Reposado is aged a few months in oak barrels. The oak aging imparts a smoothness to the tequila and also gives it a pleasing depth of colour. The complexity increases giving it softer upfront blue agave flavour and some smoky and woody character from the oak.
I like Plata for my first margarita and Reposado for my second
We prefer the classic margarita at City Cellars – no simple syrup but Cointreau or Triple Sec in a pinch) for sweetness. The key is quality ingredients: fresh lime juice and excellent tequila.
1 part lime juice
2 parts tequila
1 part Cointreau
Shaken over ice
Salt rim is best
Enjoy this Cinco de Mayo that also happens to fall on Taco Tuesday – what more could we ask for?