New Orleans doesn’t exactly have a rich Mexican heritage, but that doesn’t stop us from celebrating Cinco de Mayo in honor of our neighbors to the south. While Cinco de Mayo is often confused with Mexican Independence Day, May 5 actually celebrates Mexico’s David vs. Goliath-like victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Mexicans were in high spirits that day, so all these years later, we’ll drink our spirits in camaraderie.
Margaritas are likely to be the drink of choice, so here are our picks for the best margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in New Orleans. These are in no particular order, as they’re all fabulous and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Mexican Restaurant Takes on the Classics
Felipe’s Taqueria: House Margarita (on the rocks)
Felipe’s house margarita is a finely crafted cocktail. As you watch your bartender carefully mix fresh-squeezed key lime juice with Citronge and tequila, you’ll know this drink does not come out of a spigot. Almost everything served from behind Felipe’s bar is made in house — syrups, liqueurs, bitters and more. The house margarita has the perfect tart-to-sweet ratio and Felipe’s knows exactly how to toe the line between enjoyably strong and too strong to enjoy. Pro tip: a side of guacamole makes this drink taste even better.
The Rum House: Ponder’s Shipwreck
This is Cinco de Mayo perfection. A bottle of Sol Mexican beer is served upside down in half of a frozen margarita. It’s the best of both worlds and refreshingly mild. You can distinctly taste the flavors of both the margarita and the cerveza, and they perfectly balance each other out. It’s exactly how you imagine a combination of beer and margarita to taste, but better. And the best part? Once you finish the beer-garita, you’re left with half a bottle of beer. Salud to that!
El Gato Negro: Pineapple Cilantro Signature Margarita
If the recipe includes a slice of tequila-soaked pineapple, I’m definitely in. The sweet acidity of pineapple combined with the tartness of lime and freshness of cilantro makes for a unique and delicious experience. El Gato Negro’s impressive tequila offerings are another reason it’s a great Cinco de Mayo pick. For a fixed price, you can taste one-ounce pours of three different tequilas.
Superior Grill: Superior Margarita (frozen)
No list of New Orleans margaritas would be complete without Superior Grill. The Superior margarita is consistent in the best possible way — you can be certain when you go that your margarita will be tasty, strong and served in the iconic red-font go-cup. I like my Superior Margarita frozen, and the Styrofoam keeps the drink cool and at the perfect slushy consistency.
Rita’s Tequila House: Sangrita
Margaritas and sangria can both confidently stand on their own, but when you combine them, something truly magical happens. It’s hard to get the balance just right — oftentimes it turns out too tart, too sweet, or just off — but Rita’s Tequila House has got it down pat. Served frozen, the Sangrita is made with Sauza Silver, merlot, Razzmatazz, Peach Schnapps and fresh fruit juices. Bonus: Rita’s Bourbon Street location makes for prime people watching at all hours of the day.
Cocktail Bar Creations
If you’re not quite in the mood this Cinco de Mayo for the traditional margarita, the local cocktail bar scene has got you’ve covered. The following are our picks for the most interesting margarita-inspired cocktails.
Booty’s Street Food: La ‘Como Tiemblo’
Bywater’s hip street foods/tapas-style digs offers a marg alternative that literally translates to “how I shake.” La Como Tiemblo will leave you trembling with a pleasant heat in your mouth from the mixed drink made with habanero tequila, cucumber, citrus, cilantro and a pomegranate-salt rim. If you want to venture further still from the margarita this Cinco de Mayo, Booty’s also offers another Mexican favorite, horchata, which you can spike for an extra $4.
Victory: Und Mariachi, Te Quila Mockingbird, Poncho Villa
If you want to sip on something that’s “not quite a margarita, but still kinda like a margarita,” then Victory has got you covered with multiple options to choose from. Are you in the mood for something with a hint of fruit and sparkle? Go with Te Quila Mockingbird, made with tequila, hum, chartreuse, lime juice, agave nectar, strawberries and champagne. Something spicy? Try the Poncho Villa — tequila, jalapeño, grapefruit juice, agave nectar and bitters. Or what about something you can’t get anywhere else? That’s when you order Und Mariachi, which is made with tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, Carraway Seed liqueur, frais des boise and a cinnamon stick.
Maurepas Foods: Jalisco Fistfight
Maurepas Foods’ simple approach shines through in its version of a margarita, the Jalisco Fistfight. The cocktail combines tequila, orange, lime and cilantro, which are ingredients made to go together. The fresh taste of cilantro with tequila and citrus pack a perfect punch in this fistfight. Also on tap at Maurepas is the equally simple and tasty Maufo Margarita, made with tequila, lime, Triplum and sugar.