Cinco de Mayo is arguably the most popular Mexican holiday – maybe the most popular holiday, period (for some), not least for its essential requirement to crack out the tequila and line up the tacos for one whole day.
While you may know of this imperative necessity, you may not be quite as familiar with the reason why it came about in the first place. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that’s in September) but rather the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla in 1862 when the Mexican army reigned victorious over the French forces of Napoleon III.
Cinco de Mayo offers an excellent excuse for agave lovers to delve deep into Mexico’s finest tequilas and mezcals. And, for the adventurous, to explore its more obscure spirits like charanda, sotol, comiteco, and pox.
To help you celebrate, we’ve pulled together a list of the most vibrant spots in North America to experience extraordinary Mexican fare this fifth of May.
Brooklyn, New York
Defined by Eater as a “modern Mexican masterpiece,” Aldama is the debut project from the veteran bartender and Cosme alumnus Christopher Reyes. It opened to immediate acclaim in July 2021 and is a neighborhood favorite.
While it’s an ode to Mexico City, Aldama makes its own rules. Its menu features a patchwork of vibrant plates plucked from the creative depths of Chef Gerardo Alcaraz (alumnus of the three-Michelin-starred Martin Berasategui restaurant). Its colorful, abstract dishes pop against pastel ceramics, shades of nude, and minimalist decor, masterfully blending Michelin-standard cuisine with world-class cocktails and a chic nightlife scene that lives well into the early hours.
Sacha’s order: La Trinidad (Bombay Dry Gin, dry vermouth, lemon juice, mandarin cordial, ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto, and orange bitters).
If you have the good fortune of celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Mexico this year, you must visit Matilde. To its unique virtue, Matilde was founded by some of the world’s most established spirits experts, demonstrated by the extensive selection of bottles on its glamorous back bar, which gleams with the copper barware collection from Absolut Elyx Boutique.
Agave enthusiasts will pore over its menu of esoteric Mexican spirits, tequilas, and mescals, complemented by an innovative cocktail list that showcases the explosive cocktail scene burgeoning in GDL. Its floor-to-ceiling windows project the city’s vibrant sunsets and, come dusk, the outdoor terrace is the meeting spot for the city’s movers and shakers who gather beneath the azure canopies until late.
Sacha’s order: Amiga Date Cuenta (El Tequileño Platinum, Derrumbes Durango Mezcal, Jamaica, vanilla, lemon, Himalayan Salt, and sesame oil).
Situated in the hip neighborhood of Roma, Limantour is a leader in Mexico City’s bar scene and is considered an integral part of its cocktail evolution. It broke records at last year’s World’s 50 Best Bars awards when it ranked #6 and was also named The Best Bar in North America 2021.
A popular hang out for the local bar trade, Limantour serves beautifully presented drinks created with local liquors and ingredients and rare spirits from all over the World. It has a laid-back philosophy and regularly welcomes visiting international bartenders for guest shifts, throwing high-spirited contests and themed competitions to celebrate. With its clean, simple decor that pays homage to the golden age of Art Deco, Limantour delivers a vibrant and energetic escape from the city’s chaos with a stellar cocktail list and impeccable service – unique to a bar of its style. It’s the one to beat for a genuinely authentic Cinco de Mayo this year.
Sacha’s order: ¡Qué Padre! (tequila *we love Teremana Blanco, aperol, spanish vermouth, cranberry, orange blossom, citrus oils).
Las Vegas, Nevada
If you find yourself in Sin City this May fifth, there is no better place to celebrate the most all-out holiday than the most all-out bar in the world.
James Beard Award-winning startender Leo Robitschek – one of the planet’s most unconventional mixology minds – devised the cocktail list, including turbo-charged tequila tipples with mind-bending mixes.
Superfrico will stimulate your senses and then some. It’s a multi-dimensional playground for exploration; think of it as an entertainment-fueled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that serves booze. Here, you’ll find the world’s most creative bartending talent and food to satisfy your wildest dining dreams.
Sacha’s order: Here Comes the Sun (El Tequileño Blanco Tequila, Aperol, Cherry Heering, lemon, orgeat, pineapple, passion fruit, and Thai Chili).
Designed to create an environment that emulates the earth’s natural beauty, Fairmont’s Botanist is a triumph. Flooded with natural light and minimalist tones punctuated by beautiful trellis greenery and gardens throughout, the result of entwining nature with architecture and culinary curiosity is pure harmony.
The menus are inspired by the principles of botany and utilize the 50 different types of plant species grown on the property, including green tea camellia, cardamom, and ginger – which deliver unimaginable freshness to the drinks. A lush list of libations – designed by Canada’s former Bartender of The Year, Jeff Savage – champions the seasonal ingredients born of this agriculturally rich region, with descriptions like “electric daisies dancing in the soft light.” For a Cinco with substance, Botanist will not disappoint.
Sacha’s order: Margarita al Pastor (Reposado Tequila *we love Teremana Reposado, lime, orange bitters, and orange salt).
This newly opened, much anticipated Lower East Side bar comes from co-owners Harrison Snow and Jake Hodas in partnership with Boston bartending legend Brother Cleve. Lullaby offers a straightforward menu of sophisticated drinks made with precision by the very best in the business, all in a fiercely unpretentious setting.
You needn’t settle for cheap tequila and warm Coronas to have a down and dirty good time this Cinco. Lullaby has cherry-picked those delicious, unforgettable elements that make up “the best night ever” and captured them in a friendly neighborhood bar with almost alchemic expertise. You can even capture it all retro-style with disposable cameras available to snap all night and develop at a later date.
Sacha’s order: The Whisky Drink (Abasolo El Whisky De México, Oloroso Sherry, mascarpone, parsley, and lime).