Cinco de Mayo—the Mexican holiday to commemorate their victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862—and the Kentucky Derby—the most famous horse race of the year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY—are always in the same week. In case you are not aware, Cinco de Mayo is always on May 5th, while the Kentucky Derby is always on the first Saturday of May.
If you can’t find a place to sip on a Margarita with quality tequila and fresh lime juice or a Mint Julep with authentic Kentucky bourbon and fresh mint leaves, well, you’re not trying. Nevertheless we’ve compiled a list of a few places (and recipes) we like for Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day.
La Cantera Resort & Spa, San Antonio, TX—For a Gourmet Mezcal Margarita
Situated atop one of the highest points in all of San Antonio, you’ll find La Cantera Resort & Spa—a new standard for vacations in the Texas Hill Country. They are also known for some of the best gourmet—yes gourmet—Margaritas. Their “Oaxaca Dreams” for example epitomizes this. Ingredients include: 1oz Patron Roca Silver Tequila, 1oz Del Maguey Tobala, 1oz Spiced Agave, 1oz Persian Lime Juice. What makes this so special however is the Mezcal that is used. The Tobala found in this margarita is considered the crème of the crop when it comes to Mezcal. Each Tobala takes 12-15 years to mature and each plant produces such a small amount of fermentable sugars so in order to create this they use multiple plants per bottling- roughly 8. Tobala produces beautiful aromas of sweet fruits like mango and tropical fruit. On the mouth you see baked spices even without barrel aging. These types of bottles are only found every so often and mostly drank during celebrations such as family weddings and birthdays.
Library of Distilled Spirits, New York, NY—For a Library Full of Tequila and Bourbon
Who says libraries need to carry books. With over 1,000 carefully selected bottles, the Library of Distilled Spirits has just about every kind of spirit your imbibing spirit could ask for. Commemorating both the Mexican victory on the battefield and the greatest two minutes in sports, LDS bartenders will be mixing up various volumes of tequila and bourbon to celebrate the duo.
Salon de Ning (The Peninsula Hotel), New York, NY—For High-end Rooftop Drinking at One of New York’s Finest Hotels
On May 5 from 4-8 p.m., The Peninsula New York is throwing a joint Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby party at their rooftop bar Salon de Ning, for a day at the races with a Mexican flair. Their “Derby de Mayo” (OK, we’ve heard it, but who can help themselves) will be a fiesta blending traditions of the Kentucky Derby with Cinco de Mayo, mixing sombreros with seersuckers, and mint juleps with margaritas. The greatest two minutes of sports will be made even better with tacos and tequila alongside bourbon and barbecue. Bringing Millionaire’s Row to the Manhattan skyline, the event will feature bottomless Herradura margaritas and mint juleps from Woodford Reserve alongside tacos and barbecue, while sounds from a live band pipe through the atmosphere before broadcasting the Run for Roses. Tickets are $125 per person and includes unlimited margaritas, juleps, tacos and pulled pork sliders.
Border Grill, Los Angeles, CA—For Famously Authentic Mexican Food and Drinks in SoCal
Pardon the cliché, but Border Grill is an LA institution. Ironically, it was in a French restaurant where Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger first tasted authentic Latin flavors. While guests were dining on escargot out front, in the back of the house Mary Sue and Susan were discovering the home cooking of Oaxaca and the Yucatan at staff meals prepared by their fellow cooks from Mexico. Fortunately for Margarita lovers, Mary Sue and Susan also have an appreciation for the drink side of the menu and have used their culinary expertise to craft several margaritas that can hold their own. If you only have the tolerance for a couple though, try both the Blanco Margarita (classic) and the Cucumber Jalapeño which is sweet, spicy and refreshing.
Applebee’s, Everywhere, USA—For the Cheapest Margarita in the Land
It seems a bit odd—timing-wise—that Applebee’s dishes out $1 margaritas in the month of April, only to end the promotion just 5 days before Cinco de Mayo. Well looks like the executives at the nationwide restaurant chain have put their collective marketing caps on and extended the deal through May 5th. Says their press release-Due to overwhelming popularity, April’s Neighborhood Drink, the $1 margarita famously known as the DOLLARITA™, will be available at participating Applebee’s through Saturday, May 5. “We brought back the DOLLARITA on April 1, and it’s been such a big hit with our guests that we’re keeping it around for Cinco de Mayo when folks have margaritas on their minds,” said Patrick Kirk, vice president of beverage innovation at Applebee’s. Good call fellas. As for the Margaritas. For a buck, it’s worth a try.
Flemmings Steakhouse, Austin, TX / Fresno, CA—For a $100 Margarita
Looking for something a little more upscale than a $1 Margarita? How about a Margarita that will cost you a Ben Franklin? Yes, you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo all weekend long, May 4-6, at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar with a one-of-a-kind $100 Prime Margarita. Made with ultra-premium Herradura Selección Suprema Tequila-an extra-añejo tequila expression, aged for 49 months-this one is served in a Baccarat Diamant Highball crystal glass, for you to take home. Reprising its one-of-a-kind $100 Prime Margarita, the upscale steakhouse, with locations in Austin and Fresno, is partnering with Tequila Herradura, an ultra-premium 100 percent agave tequila, and Baccarat, the world-renowned fine crystal manufacturer in this ultra-hifalutin offering.
Antique Taco, Chicago, IL—For Farm-to-Table Mexican Cuisine and Stylish Antiques in the Windy City
Chef Rick Ortiz blends the freshest available foods from the midwest with his Mexican heritage, while Creative Director Ashley Ortiz weaves the flavorful food, antique style and the comfort of home into one of Chicago’s most authentic Mexican restaurants. And while, the food and atmosphere are hard to beat at this trendy Mexican outpost (with multiple locations across the city) so are the margaritas. While it’s worth it to try a couple different styles, the House Rosemary margarita is definitely their most popular.
Miraval Resort and Spa, Tuscon, AZ—For a Sustainability Conscious Margarita
This spring, Miraval Resort and Spa, a leading wellness destination in Tuscon Arizona, has taken a stand in the food waste crisis by being one of the first to offer a series of hands-on cooking classes and lectures that teach average home chefs how to reduce food waste in their own kitchens. Designed to instill a reverence for our food and where it comes from, Miraval’s new Conscious Cooking Curriculum is comprised of three innovative classes including Conscious Cooking and Conscious Baking in which guests learn to use foods normally destined for the trash to create delectable dishes. As part of the curriculum, Miraval’s culinary team has created the citrus peel margarita that eliminates waste by using the peels of the oranges or grapefruits to infuse the tequila.
Javier’s at Crystal Cove, Newport Beach, CA—For One of the Best Margaritas in SoCal…Period!
With locations in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach (Crystal Cove), Los Angles and Irvine (Irvine Spectrum)-not to mention Las Vegas (Aria) and Los Cabos-Javier’s is not only a SoCal staple but a regional juggernaut. As for their margaritas. Many feel their Cadilac is the best around. A longtime staffer at Tortilla Flats in Laguna Beach, Javier Sosa decided to go out on his own with Mark Post and they opened a small place in downtown Laguna in 1995. Business was so good he made a genius move to an upscale location in Newport Coast. Its Mexican coastal resort vibe fit the neighborhood like a glove, with tropical plants, ocean view and handcrafted, silvery sculpted “tequila tree.”