While a steady supply of chips, guac and tacos are a must at any self-respecting Cinco de Mayo celebration, for most of us, it’s essentially a drinking holiday. But instead of defaulting to pre-mixed, ectoplasm-tinted margaritas dispensed from plastic tubs, try these expert takes on five classic Mexican cocktails instead, from La Slowteria’s freshly squeezed micheladas to Xixa’s impressive, creative array of spiked agua frescas.
Best Margarita: Gran Electrica
Neon, saccharine slushies totally have a time and place (which we wholeheartedly agree is anytime, anywhere, throughout the duration of the spring/summer season). But you might as well pretend that your tastes have evolved somewhat since college, by ordering the Margarita de Remolacha at Gran Electrica, a theatrically garnet, on-the-rocks combination of house-pressed beet juice, simple syrup, Pueblo Viejo blanco tequila, Combier and lime.
5 Front Street, DUMBO
Best Michelada: La Slowteria
Most Micheladas rely heavily on Clamato or other canned, tomato-based products, but that’s definitely not the case at La Slowteria, where the cerveza-topped cocktail is practically as virtuous as the hand-squeezed juices—made with pure, nutrient-rich tomato puree.
548 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
Best Sangria: Palo Santo
For many places, this easy-drinking brunch-time favorite is a great way to make a buck—by thinning out massive jugs of oppressively sweet Carlo Rossi with liters of seltzer and skin-on hunks of oranges, apples and other cheap fruit. But Palo Santo takes actual pride in its sangria, offsetting oaky chardonnay with citrusy sauvignon blanc, poured over booze-infused tidbits you’ll legitimately want to eat, such as melon, kiwi and papaya.
642 Union Street, Park Slope
Best Agua Fresca: Xixa
The term “agua fresca” applies to a wide range of booze-free beverages, from tamarind, guava and hibiscus juice, to cinnamon-dusted, rice milk-based horchatas. But the agua frescas at Xixa benefit from a judicious application of alcohol—i.e., house tequila—added to cherry habanero lemonade, toasted sunflower seed horchatas, and ginger-berry juice, along with optional, flavor-infused ice cubes, like the salty, citrusy “Margarita” and the coconutty “Pina Colada.”
241 S. 4th Street, Williamsburg
Best Paloma: Taco Chulo
Since there’s really not much to this thoroughly refreshing cocktail (it’s tequila, mixed with grapefruit juice or soda), taking too many artistic liberties with Palomas just seems silly. That’s why we’re endorsing Taco Chulo’s utterly faithful version, a crisp, sunset-colored concoction featuring the top-selling Mexican soft drink brand, Jarritos.
318 Grand Street, Williamsburg