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Cinco de Mayo Margaritas

Fresh new flavors shake up the traditional toast.

Margaritas rule Cinco de Mayo celebrations. 

Cinco de Mayo is the commemoration of Mexico’s unlikely victory over France in 1862. In America, it has evolved into a salute to Mexican history and tradition. Tequila is also a tradition from Mexico. This blue agave-based spirit is most famously produced in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, Mexico.    

These on-the-rocks margarita recipes will shake up your Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Start with a margarita base mix and go from there. You can leave out the tequila and triple sec for those who love the taste of a margarita but not the alcohol. 

Margarita Base Mix

You can buy margarita mix at the store, but why settle for “one taste suits all?” This recipe is a great starter for any margarita you can dream up and you can adjust it to suit your taste.

Ingredients: 1 equal part (usually an ounce) of all the following: lemon juice, lime juice, Triple Sec and simple syrup (see recipe below). For example, if you plan on making six drinks, use six ounces of each ingredient.   

Preparation: Combine and stir. If you don’t use this immediately, it can be stored in the refrigerator for more than a month.

Simple syrup: Boil equal parts of water and sugar for five minutes. Once cool, refrigerate. When I make simple syrup, I use one pint each of sugar and water, yielding a quart of syrup to use in iced teas, lemonades and other cold drinks. To give my simple syrup a unique flavor, I add a vanilla bean (cut in half length-wise and scraped to release the flavor) to the boiling sugar water. You could also use one teaspoon of vanilla extract. 

Traditional Margarita

Before I commit to measurements, remember that drink mixes should be adjusted to fit individual preferences. When I mix a traditional margarita for guests, I add three parts margarita base mix with one part tequila into a shaker with crushed ice. Shake and serve.

Blood Orange Margarita

Combine one part margarita base, two parts blood orange juice and one part tequila in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake and serve.

Note that blood orange juice can be found in specialty markets. For an extra citrus and alcohol kick, add one part Grand Marnier. 

Blackberry Basil Margarita

1 pound frozen blackberries

1 cup water

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 cup sugar

¾-ounce fresh basil

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except basil and boil over medium heat for approximately five minutes. Remove basil leaves from stems and add to the boiling mixture. Turn off the heat and stir, allowing leaves to steep, uncovered, for five minutes. Strain mixture into a bowl.

Combine two parts blackberry basil mix with one part margarita base mix and one part tequila in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake and serve.

Garnishes

A lime wedge is the traditional garnish for margaritas, while margarita glasses are often rimmed with salt or sugar crystals. Traditional margaritas are rimmed with salt, while some of the designer margaritas could be rimmed with sugar or colored sugar crystals as we did. Happy Cinco de Mayo and enjoy!

Zachary Pope is an award-winning chef and owner of Roundz Catering. He and his family live in Crofton.

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