Bartending, Recipes

5 Traditional Mexican Cocktails for Cinco De Mayo

By Brie Shelley


Brie Shelley

May 2, 2016

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

Mexican Cocktails for Cinco De Mayo

With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, it’s time to prep your drink menu for la celebración! When your customers think of classic Mexican cocktails, their minds probably jump to the Margarita. Crafted with tequila, triple sec, and lime juice, the Margarita is a staple in Mexican (and American) drinking culture.

Although we love Margaritas, we’ve decided to shine the spotlight on some traditional Mexican cocktails that are lesser-known. Unlike some commercialized drinks, these classic cocktails are commonly consumed below the border. So, get ready for this year’s biggest celebration of our southern neighbor—and one of the best drinking days of the year—and delight your customers with these 5 authentic Mexican bebidas for Cinco de Mayo!

    1. Michelada

Similar to the Bloody Mary, the Michelada is known to lessen the symptoms of a hangover and is typically consumed along with brunch. It falls into the “cervezas preparadas” category, or Mexican beer cocktails.

A combination of beer, clamato or tomato juice, hot sauce, lime, and salt, this drink is a balance of spicy, savory, and sour. Depending on the region, its specific ingredients vary. When additional seasoning or hot sauce is added, some call it a Chelada.

Ingredients (1 serving)

6 ounces beer (Mexican beer of choice)

½ teaspoon Maggi seasoning

½ teaspoon vinegar-based hot sauce

1 lime, juiced

1 cup Clamato

Ice cubes


1. Combine all ingredients, except for beer, in a mixing glass

2. Mix thoroughly with a bar spoon

3. Pour into a salt-rimmed glass

4. Add beer

5. Garnish with a lime wedge


    1. Sangrita

Sangrita (meaning, “little blood”) is a traditional non-alcoholic drink used to cleanse the palate between sips of tequila blanco. It originated in the Lake Chapala region that borders the state of Jalisco, Mexico. Before the late 1990s, when tequila began to rise in popularity worldwide, few people outside the region knew of its existence.

Although it’s sometimes mistaken for tomato juice mixed with spices, it was traditionally made with leftover juices from pico de gallo, which usually consisted of cucumber, papaya, mango, tangerine, jicama, and chilli powder.   
Nowadays, making and draining pico de gallo is no longer the most efficient method for satisfying customer demand. For this reason, Mexican bartenders have adapted the Sangrita recipe to include more accessible ingredients.

Ingredients (2 servings)

1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

½ ounce pomegranate juice

1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

2 drops Tabasco sauce or a small dash of ancho chile powder

1 slice jalapeno


1. Combine ingredients in shaker with ice

2. Shake

3. Strain into small glass

4. Serve with a shot of blanco tequila**

**To serve a Bandera, a three-shot cocktail inspired by the Mexican flag, also serve with a shot glass filled with lime juice.

    1. Paloma

With the exception of straight tequila shots, the Paloma is the most popular tequila drink in Mexico. Spanish for “dove,” this cocktail is most commonly prepared by mixing tequila with grapefruit juice or grapefruit-flavored soda. Usually, it’s served on the rocks with a lime wedge garnish.

Ingredients (1 serving)

2 oz 100% agave blanco tequila

1 pinch salt

Half a lime

Grapefruit soda (or grapefruit juice and club soda)


1. Fill a highball glass with ice

2. Add tequila and salt

3. Squeeze the lime half into the glass and drop in

4. Fill the remainder of the glass with grapefruit soda

5. Stir with a bar spoon

    1. Horchata

The Horchata is originally from Valencia, but Spanish colonists brought it over during Mexican colonization. Unlike the Spanish Horchata, which is made with tigernuts, the Mexican Horchata is made with rice and canela (Mexican cinnamon).
The drink differs region to region, and each household has their favorite way to prepare it. Some Horchatas are thin and watery, and others are creamier from being mixed with milk. Sometimes the rice is soaked, and other times it’s toasted. To mix things up, people also like to include different grains, nuts, and fresh fruits.

Classic Horchata

Ingredients (6 servings)

1 cup white long grain rice

¾ cup blanched almonds

1 three-inch long soft cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

5 cups water

¼ cup sweetened condensed milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla



1. Combine the rice, almonds, cinnamon, and 4 cups hot water and let it sit for at least two hours but preferably overnight

2. Put the mixture in the blender and blend it as smooth as possible

3. Strain

4. Add condensed milk and vanilla

5. Store in fridge until time to serve


Boozy Rum Horchata

Ingredients (1 serving)

⅗ cup Horchata (recipe above)

½ cup unsweetened almond, coconut, or rice milk

2 tablespoons dark rum or Kahlua

Dash of ground cinnamon

Ice cubes


1. Add all ingredients to a shaker

2. Shake

3. Pour into glass over ice

4. Garnish with a dash of ground cinnamon


    1. Mexican Coffee

A delicious, warm cocktail that’s typically served at the end of a meal, the Mexican Coffee is traditionally crafted with three core ingredients—Kahlua, Mexican tequila, and coffee.
Kahlua, the famed Mexican coffee and sugar cane spirit, was invented by Senior Blanco, Montalvo Lara and the Alvarez brothers in 1936, and it’s made with premium Arabica coffee beans grown in Veracruz, Mexico. Here’s a typical Mexican Coffee recipe you’d find below the border.

Ingredients (1 serving)

½ ounce silver tequila

½ ounce Kahlua

1 cup strong-brewed coffee

Whipped cream (or ¼ cup melted vanilla ice cream)


1. Pour tequila and Kahlua into an Irish coffee mug

2. Fill the rest of the cup with coffee

3. Top with whipped cream or melted vanilla ice cream

Surprise your customers and go beyond the Margarita. With a wide range of traditional offerings, you’ll stand out and make a lasting impression. Kick off the celebration with a comprehensive list of Mexican cocktails. ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Looking for more cocktail ideas? Check out our Craft Cocktail Series!

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