Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

15 Cocktails to Make for Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate the holiday with Margarita riffs and more.

Paloma cocktail served in highball glass with lime wheel, shot on woven placemat with tan background / Tim Nusog

Cinco de Mayo isn’t exactly a traditional Mexican holiday. In fact, it was Mexican-Americans who first began honoring the country’s victory against France in the Battle of Puebla, which took place in 1862. Since the first festivities in southern border states like California in 1863, the holiday has become a day for mostly Americans to celebrate Mexican culture—which, of course, includes Mexican (or Mexican-American) food and drink.

While Margaritas have come to be associated with the holiday, there’s no shortage of agave spirit-based drinks you can enjoy on May 5th and throughout the year. From classics like the Paloma and Michelada to agave-fueled riffs like the Mezcal Negroni, here are 15 cocktails to make for Cinco de Mayo.

  • Margarita

    Margarita / Tim Nusog

    If there’s one drink you associate with Cinco de Mayo, it’s probably this one. The classic combination of tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur or agave syrup (or a combination of both) is popular for a reason: It’s a delicious drink and it’s easy to make. (It’s great frozen, too.)

    Get the recipe.

  • Michelada

    Michelada / Tim Nusog

    This classic beer cocktail calls for a Mexican lager, lime juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and plenty of spices. Garnish with a spiced salt rim or take your cues from Mexico City, where ever more over-the-top presentations are trending.

    Get the recipe.

  • Savory Margarita

    Savory Margarita cocktail served in rocks glass with cubed ice and lime wheel, shot against tan background / Tim Nusog

    If you get more excited about tacos than Margaritas, this savory cocktail from bar pro Charlotte Voisey may just be your drink. She combines a lightly aged reposado tequila with fresh bell pepper juice, lime, honey syrup, and cilantro.

    Get the recipe.

  • Oaxaca Old Fashioned

    Oaxaca Old Fashioned / Tim Nusog

    Created by famed bartender Phil Ward while he was working at New York City’s Death & Co, this cocktail helped kick off the mezcal craze in the U.S. The simple combination of reposado tequila, mezcal, agave nectar, and Angostura bitters is easy to re-create at home.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Paloma

    Paloma cocktail in a highball glass with a lime wheel / Tim Nusog

    This simple combination of tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda has become wildly popular in Mexico and beyond since it debuted in the 1950s. Perfect for parties, it can be prepared right in the glass.

    Get the recipe.

  • Spicy Margarita

    Spicy Margarita cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This ever-popular drink adds muddled jalapeño to the traditional mix of blanco tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and agave syrup. Make the classic, or try a mezcal riff like the Smoke Follows Beauty.

    Get the recipe.

  • Mezcal Mule

    Mezcal Mule cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Legendary bartender Jim Meehan created this fruity and smoky combination of mezcal, cucumber, passion fruit puree, lime juice, and ginger beer. The fruity and smoky Moscow Mule twist is ultra-refreshing.

    Get the recipe.

  • Mezcal Paloma

    Mezcal Paloma in highball glass with Tajin salt rim and lime wedge, shot against tan background / Tim Nusog

    This simple Paloma riff swaps blanco tequila for mezcal alongside grapefruit soda and lime juice. A spicy Tajín rim plays off the smoky notes of the spirit.

    Get the recipe.

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  • El Diablo

    El Diablo cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Fans of flavored Margaritas may find a new favorite drink in this fruity mid-century classic from Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink. The refreshing cocktail combines reposado tequila with the black currant liqueur crème de cassis, lime juice, and ginger beer.

    Get the recipe.

  • Mezcal Negroni

    Vibrant red Mezcal Negroni in etched rocks glass on marble background, with orange garnish / Tim Nusog

    A Negroni might not be a classic Mexican drink, but Mexico’s most beloved spirit works surprisingly well with Campari and sweet vermouth. This recipe can also be easily scaled up for a crowd if you dilute the mixture with water before serving.

    Get the recipe.

  • Lagerita

    Lagerita / Tim Nusog 

    Why choose between beer and tequila? From bar pro Simon Ford comes this simple Margarita riff that combines tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, and a light Mexican beer like Modelo.

    Get the recipe.

  • Tequila Espresso Martini

    Tequila Espresso Martini served in Nick and Nora glass with thick foam, garnished with three espresso beans and shot against tan background / Tim Nusog

    This Espresso Martini riff from Los Angeles bartender Karla Flores-Mercado combines blanco tequila with a Mexican coffee liqueur, coffee concentrate, amaro, and lemon oils. The result is an earthier and brighter take on the vodka classic.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Naked & Famous

    Naked and Famous cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This modern classic takes the equal-parts formula of the Last Word for a mezcal-fueled spin. Bartender Joaquín Simó combines a particularly complex bottling of the spirit with Aperol, Yellow Chartreuse, and lime juice.

    Get the recipe.

  • Ready Fire Aim

    Ready Fire Aim / Tim Nusog

    Honey-pineapple syrup accents mezcal and pineapple juice in this fruity sour from bartender Steve Schneider. Smoked chile bitters and a pink peppercorn garnish bring the heat.

    Get the recipe.

  • Non-Alcoholic Spicy Margarita

    Non-Alcoholic Spicy Margarita / Tim Nusog

    Even if you’re not imbibing, you can still enjoy the flavors of a Margarita. Bar pro Natasha David created this savory-leaning zero-proof riff, combining fresh celery juice with lime, muddled jalapeño and cilantro, agave nectar, and salt.

    Get the recipe.