Five Real Mexican Drinks for Cinco de Mayo

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Let's just get this straight right away, OK?

Yes, Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday. It's a Mexican holiday the way Patriots' Day is an American holiday. Patriots' Day is only observed in two out of the 50 American states (Massachusetts and Maine, in case you were wondering); Cinco de Mayo is only observed in one out of the 31 Mexican states (Puebla, in case you were wondering).

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beleaveme @ flickr.com CC BY-ND 2.0
<rolleyes> Oh, SO Mexican... </rolleyes>
The whole "drinko for Cinco" malarky, where gloppy combo plates with cheese melted over everything or grade-D meat tacos get chased with a small ocean of the beer-flavored soda known as Corona, is about as Mexican as I am (in other words, not at all). It's thoroughly an American invention, St. Patrick's Day with worse beer.

If you're going to celebrate the defeat of the French army at the hands of the Mexican soldiers in Puebla (insert surrender joke here), which is at least as good an excuse to party as any, at least do so by drinking drinks that might actually be recognizable by Mexicans. Here are five to get you started:

1. Margarita

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Yes, margaritas really are Mexican drinks--but this business of blended fruit, ice and crappy bottled sour mix has got to go. A margarita is tequila, triple sec and lime juice. Proportions vary, but the "official" recipe is 7 parts tequila, 4 parts triple sec and 3 parts lime juice, served on the rocks; a salted rim is optional. No strawberries, no mangoes, no blenders, and most importantly, no Cuervo Gold. Use a real tequila, one that's marked 100% de agave, but don't splurge; you don't need $50-a-fifth sipping tequila for this drink.

2. Paloma

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reeselloyd @ flickr.com CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Ask an American to name a tequila cocktail and the first word out of his mouth will be "margarita". Ask a Mexican the same question and he'll tell you "una paloma". The most popular tequila drink (besides straight shots) in Mexico is a shot of tequila and three shots of Squirt, Jarritos Toronja or another grapefruit soda, served on the rocks. The same rules for tequila apply here as for the margarita; try a real tequila and you may get past the "one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor" problem.

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