In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is wildly celebrated as a day to honor Mexico’s culture and heritage. Miami's festivities today include everything from a taco-eating contest at Bodega to luchador matches at Coyo Taco (see the full list of Cinco de Mayo events in Miami here). But for those who want to properly pay their respects, a classic tequila or mezcal cocktail will do the trick. Though some revelers prefer to a classic margarita at Lolo's Surf Cantina or other spots, there are other inventive ways to imbibe Mexico's classic spirits. Here are five of Miami's best.
1. MezCalifornication at Repour Bar ($12)
Ever since Tyler Ridgeway, head bartender of Repour, visited the Oaxacan distillery by Viejo Indecente, he knew he had to make something special with its mezcal. Ridgeway shared that he wanted to create something as rare as everyone he met during his travels in Mexico. He pours a mix of Viejo Indecente, celery, snow pea, lime, chipotle agave, and grapefruit bitters into a margarita glass with a spicy salt rim for his MezCalifornication.
2. Mezcal Aviation at Sugar ($15)
Conde Nast rated this rooftop bar at the East Miami hotel number one in America, and its cocktail program is serving some of the best drinks under the stars. Sergio Sellares, head bartender of Sugar, puts a spin on the traditional aviation cocktail by substituting gin for mezcal. "The aviation is a traditional gin cocktail that has found new light during the classic cocktail revolution," Sellares says. "We selected mezcal instead of gin for our version due to its smoky flavor profile. The mezcal raises the overall depth in flavor, producing a wonderful umami play on the senses."
3. Lavagave at Beaker & Gray ($14)
Ben Potts uses Don Julio blanco, Fidencio mezcal, lavender, egg glair, grapefruit, and vanilla bitters for the Lavagave. “I wanted to enhance the bright, grassy agave flavor of the blanco tequila with interesting but somewhat contrasting flavors," Potts says. "The smokiness works really well with the lavender, and the bite of the grapefruit with the egg glair lightens the drink.”
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4. Bronze Hyper Snaper at El Grito ($10)
Ezra Pattek, bar manager of El Grito, suggests guests lean toward the Ocho Plata tequila-based drink made with cucumber, lemon, and "sacred" syrup (containing hoja santa leaf and ginger). This cocktail is also offered frozen. “It's getting hot and humid here in Miami" Pattek says. "What's better than a frozen tequila cocktail?"
5. Salt Air Margarita at the Bazaar by José Andrés ($16)
If there is one margarita anyone should drink, it's the one preferred by José Andrés. It comes topped with a salty foam. “Most margaritas have a salt rim on the glass that many times overshadows or overpowers the cocktail," says Ricardo Schargel, lead bartender at the Bazaar by José Andrés. "With the salt air, this is avoided, as the air is light and complements the cocktail perfectly while providing a visually intriguing look to the cocktail.” Schargel says the story for the margarita comes from Andrés himself, who was at the beach on a windy day and observed the foamy ocean spray along the shore. It inspired him to create the salt air that tops the cocktail, reminiscent of having a margarita right on the sand.