Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, and many of you will be sloshing down the compulsory Margaritas and tequila shots, which in no way would I want to stand in the way of. But if you're an adventurous drinker like I am and want to try something new (but no less fitting of the festivities), you might be interested in the cocktail that follows.
The common misconception is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day--it is not. It's a commemoration of the Mexican army's defeat of Napoleon's French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Cinco de Mayo is not widely celebrated throughout Mexico, except in the city of Puebla where the victorious battle took place. In the U.S., however, Cinco de Mayo parallels St. Patrick's Day as a national excuse to get drunk, although in California and some of the Southwest states it has also become a celebration of Mexican heritage--in addition to an excuse to get drunk.
This week's cocktail, the General Ignacio, is one I recently created. The name is significant for a couple reasons. First, it's a small present for one of my dearest friends, Ignacio, who's birthday is actually tomorrow. Tom Cruise may be born on the 4th of July, but that doesn't top a Mexican born on Cinco de Mayo!
Secondly, the name is significant to Cinco de Mayo itself, because it was under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin that the Mexican army defeated the French.
The ingredients in the cocktail are also inspired by the spirit of Cinco de Mayo. Chartreuse, an herbal liqueur made in France, and June, a liqueur made from grape vine flowers, also from France, join forces to topple the smoky full-flavored Mezcal. But despite being outnumbered by a half ounce, the Mexican spirit holds its own against the French liqueurs by enlisting the help of its reliable old pal from the citrus family. And although it might first appear that there's a real battle taking place in the cocktail shaker, the ice convinces everyone to chill out, producing a surprisingly harmonious outcome despite seemingly competing elements.
1 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida (hands down the best value in Mezcal)
3/4 oz Chartreuse
3/4 oz June Liqueur
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: chilled coupe or cocktail glass
Place everything besides the lemon peel in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice; shake hard until well-chilled; strain into a chilled cocktail glass; twist lemon peel over drink to release its oils then discard.
Happy Cinco de Mayo, and may fortune be with you in the Battle of the Hangover.
*Got a cocktail question? Hit me on twitter @paystyle, email me at payman(at)lifesacocktail(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below.