6 Non-Margarita Drinks to Enjoy on Cinco de Mayo

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Tired of celebrating Cinco de Mayo with yet another margarita? Try these popular Mexican drinks, which go beyond lime and tequila.


If you don’t want to veer too far way away from the margarita, la paloma (which means "dove") is the drink for you: The refreshing beverage, which consists of tequila, grapefruit soda, and lime, even calls for salt on the rim. According to one theory, the drink is named after a popular folk song from the 1860s; another says it was named after "Cucurrucucu Paloma," a 1950s song written by Tomás Méndez and originally performed by Pedro Infante. No matter how it got its name, la paloma remains one of the most popular cocktails in Mexico. You can find a recipe here.


Next time you eat a pineapple, save the rind, which you can use to make tepache. To make this traditional Mexican drink, throw the rind in a pot with piloncillo (unrefined sugar), some spices, and water; bring to a boil, then simmer; add ripe pineapple chunks; and let the whole concoction ferment for a few days. For a more alcoholic version, you then add a beer, wait a little longer, and enjoy. Tepache has its roots in the nahuatl word tapiatl, which means “drink made from corn”—the original base for this drink. You can find a recipe here.


Sometimes referred to as the Mexican Bloody Mary, this drink is traditionally made with beer, lime, and various spices, and nowadays frequently features tomato juice as well. Depending on where you’re drinking it, it may also contain clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce, or Maggi seasoning. The Michelada may be named after Michel Esper, who created it at a bar, or Augusto Michel, a general in the Mexican Revolution who put hot sauce in his troops' beer. (In 2005, however, the owner of a michelada mix manufacturer claimed that he made up the Augusto Michel story to “add mystique to our product.”) But the most popular explanation is that Michelada is a combination of mi (my), chela (beer), and helada (iced): "my cold beer." You can find a recipe here.


The precise origin of this fermented corn drink is unknown, but it dates back to pre-Columbian times and is usually associated with the state of Colima. And yes, it is fermented from the same corn dough (Masa) used to make tortillas. By boiling the dough with water and piloncillo until it's a thick liquid, vendors create a drink with either low or nonexistent alcohol content. It is frequently served on the streets of Colima combined with lime juice in a plastic cup or simply a bag with a straw in it.


This ancient yeasty beverage, made from the fermented sap of the maguey (agave plant), was popular in Mexico until the Spanish brought another yeasty drink over from Europe. Pulque was used in many ceremonies and the sap from the plant was believed to be the blood of the goddess Mayahuel. (One of the key differences between pulque and the other two famous agave drinks, tequila and mezcal, is that pulque is never distilled, and is instead left to ferment in fermentation houses known as tinacales.) Sour and yeast-like, pulque declined in popularity after beer came onto the scene, but it's recently enjoyed something of a comeback. You can find out how to make it yourself here.


This bright red drink has been made in Mexico for thousands of years using the fermented prickly pear found on the cacti of the Opuntia genus mixed with sugar. It's made wherever nopal (the Mexican Spanish term for the plant) is abundant.