5 Cocktail Drink Recipes You Have to Try for Cinco de Mayo

Margaritas, be warned, you have stiff competition in the drink department this year on Cinco de Mayo. Don’t get us wrong — a margarita with a salted rim can be the perfect drink on a hot day, but why not branch out this year during your Cinco celebrations? To keep you on theme, but off margaritas, here are five drink recipes.

1. Chavela


Chavela | Source: Thinkstock

A beer-based cocktail that can be made extra boozy with the addition of tequila, a chavela is the simple, spicy drink you need on Cinco de Mayo. Follow this recipe from Saveur and start sipping.


  • Lemon wedge
  • kosher salt, for rimming the glass
  • 3 ounces tomato juice
  • 6 dashes hot sauce, like Tabasco or Cholula
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle light-bodied Mexican beer, like Corona
  • 1.5 ounces tequila (optional)

Directions: Rub the lemon wedge around the rim of a glass; reserve the lemon wedge. Pour some sea salt out onto a plate, and rub the rim of the glass in the salt to coat. Fill the glass with ice, add tomato juice, hot sauce, and beer to fill. Drop in the lemon wedge. Serve with a shot of tequila, if you like.

2. Watermelon Agua Fresca

Watermelon drink

Watermelon agua fresca | Source: iStock

You may not be imbibing this Cinco de Mayo, but going without alcohol doesn’t mean going without an appropriately themed drink. Agua frescas (fresh waters) are a refreshing choice for anyone who is avoiding alcohol. This watermelon version from AllRecipes.com serves 8.


  • 4 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white sugar, or to taste
  • 4 slices lime
  • 24 fresh mint leaves
  • ice

Directions: Puree the watermelon and water in a blender until smooth. Add sugar to taste. Cut the lime slices in half. Place a half lime slice into each of eight glasses along with three mint leaves. Crush with a cocktail muddler, then fill each glass with ice. Pour in the watermelon agua fresca, and stir before serving.

3. Paloma

sprite, lime

Paloma | Source: iStock

A popular cocktail in Mexico, the paloma is sweet and tart all at once. Grapefruit soda may be hard to come by, and in the directions Esquire notes that you can substitute in a combination of lemon-lime soda with a splash of grapefruit juice if that is the case. No matter which way you have to make it, this is not a drink to pass up.


  • 2 ounces tequila
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Grapefruit soda

Directions: Combine the tequila, lime juice, and salt in a tall glass. Add ice, top off with grapefruit soda, and stir. The soda can be hard to find; the Mexican Jarritos brand is preferable, but anything will do, even, at last resort, lemon-lime soda with a splash of grapefruit juice. Some prefer the salt on the rim of the glass, others just throw it in.

4. Champurrado

hot chocolate

Champurrado | Source: iStock

Rain in the forecast for your Cinco de Mayo? The stormy weather will melt away when you make champurrados, a thick Mexican hot chocolate. In Serious Eats’ recipe, piloncillo is used. Piloncillo is a sugar, and if you cannot find it in a store, substitute ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses.


  • ⅓ cup masa harina, such as Maseca
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 ounces Mexican chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 ounces piloncillo
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Directions: In medium saucepan, whisk together masa harina and water until thoroughly combined. Stir in milk, chocolate, piloncillo, and salt. Add anise pods and cinnamon sticks and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook mixture, stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted, piloncillo is dissolved, and mixture has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard anise pods and cinnamon sticks. Serve.

5. Sangria


Sangria | Source: iStock

OKRA Magazine took this sangria recipe from the Junior League of Houston, which published it in the 1970s. It has stood the test of time, and since it serves between 6 and 9, is ideal for festive occasions — like Cinco de Mayo.


  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle fruity red wine, like pinot noir
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 4 thin slices each of orange, lemon, and lime
  • 1 fresh peach, pitted and sliced

Directions: Bring the sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and cool. Transfer the sugar water to a pitcher and add the wine, brandy, and citrus juices. Chill. Before serving, add the ginger ale, pineapple, citrus slices, and peaches.

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