Cinco de Mayo falls on a Saturday this year making it a wonderful reason to throw a Mexican fiesta. I'm jetting down to San Diego to help my sister and her Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters host a philanthropic barbeque. I'm very excited about the event and maybe a teeny tiny bit nervous about having to man the grill.

Slowly but surely the pieces are falling into place. The invitation is a colorful flyer that the girls are passing out on campus and the menu is Mexican themed. Since we'll be out in the sun all day, watching a charity soccer tournament, cool drinks are a necessary part of the puzzle. Large coolers will hold an assortment of sodas (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, etc) and bottled waters (still and sparkling) those of drinking age can choose from a variety of Mexican beers and sip on classic margaritas. Pitchers of berry lemonade will be on hand to quench thirst. To see what beers I'll be pouring and for the recipes,

My favorite Mexican beer is Pacifico and around Cinco de Mayo one can usually find it for a reasonable price. Corona, Tecate, and Negro Modelo are other good picks. I will also cut up a massive amount of lime wedges to garnish the beers.

As much as I love experimenting with other flavors (raspberry, beer, blood orange, non-alcoholic) to enhance and change a cocktail sometimes nothing beats the original recipe. Traditionally a

calls for three simple ingredients: tequila, cointreau (or triple sec), and fresh squeezed lime juice. Frozen berries give

a vibrant festive color.

From Rick Bayless

1 750-milliliter bottle silver tequila (in this margarita, the better the tequila, the better the drink. Try Herradura, El Tesoro, El Viejito, Patron, or practically any of the 100% agave tequilas that are available in the market)
1 to 2 cups (1/3 to 2/3 of a 750-milliliter bottle) triple sec or Cointreau
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus several tablespoons extra for rimming the glasses
Several tablespoons coarse (kosher-type) salt, for rimming the glasses
About a gallon of ice cubes

  1. Just before serving, in a half-gallon pitcher combine the tequila, the minimum amount of triple sec or Cointreau, and the lime juice. Taste and add more of the orange liqueur if you think your margaritas need more sweet oranginess to balance the other flavors. Remember, you're tasting it warm and undiluted: when chilled and diluted, the flavors will be mellower and the lime's tartness will be more compelling (tangy, warm champagne is not nearly as inviting as ice-cold).
  2. Pour several tablespoons of lime juice onto one small plate, several tablespoons coarse salt onto another. Have martini glasses at hand (for an extra special touch, you can chill them). I like the 5-ounce size, since that size drink will stay cold from first sip to last. As your guests ask for their margaritas, invert a glass into the plate with the lime juice to moisten the rim, then lightly dip into the plate with the salt.
  3. For each drink measure 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) of the margarita mixture into a cocktail shaker. If you have a 2-ounce ladle that you can keep in the pitcher, measuring goes much faster. Add ice cubes (5 cubes for 1, 8 for 2, and 10 for 3). Secure the lid and top and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into the salt-crusted glasses and hand off to the lucky recipients.

Serves 20-24.

Berry Lemonade
Modified from Bella Online

1 bag frozen berries - pureed in a blender or food processor
2-1/2 quarts water, divided
1 cup lemon juice
1-1/4 cups sugar

  1. Cook the pureed berries and 1 cup water in a saucepan, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Strain the berry juice through a strainer or a food mill to remove the seeds.
  3. Pour the berry juice into the saucepan again; add the sugar and cook for a few more minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Cool, then pour into a large pitcher. Stir in the remaining water and the lemon juice. Chill, then pour over ice to serve.

Serves 8-10

What will you be drinking on Cinco de Mayo?? Be sure to check back mañana for more of this Mexican fiesta.