Cinco de Mayo celebrations often end up skewing 21+ due to the popular range of refreshments available on that lively day. Because the Cinco de Mayo tradition so heavily relies on anything with tequila, we’ve come to define it as an adult-only occasion. You’re partaking because you don’t yet know anything of children, bedtimes and babysitters, or you’re leaving the kiddos at home. But Cinco de Mayo is more than just a drinking holiday. Cinco de Mayo is about celebrating Mexican-American culture and all it has brought to the melting pot of this great country.
Whether you have kids or simply don’t drink alcohol, there’s a whole host of ways to join in on the fiesta. These delicious Mexican drinks will more than make up for those salt-rimmed skinny margaritas.
Horchata is not only delicious and refreshing, but it’s super easy to make if you’ve got a half hour. Horchata is a rice milk drink flavored with cinnamon and sugar – basically rice pudding in a cup but way more refreshing!
To make horchata: You can either take the shortcut by adding simple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla to your rice milk; or take the long way round and create your very own rice milk. Just blend rice and water (and even cinnamon for this drink) in a blender, allow it to steep in water overnight and then strain it. When ready to make horchata, combine the homemade rice milk with a little simply syrup, cinnamon and vanilla, to taste.
Cold Hibiscus Tea (aka Agua de Jamaica)
Hibiscus tea is a great drink brimming with antioxidants. It can be made hot or cold, left bitter or sweetened. Derived from the flowers of the hibiscus plant, this tea comes out quite tart, tasting somewhat like cranberries. However, in Mexico, it’s traditionally made with plenty of sugar to combat the tartness.
To make aqua de jamaica: Simply steep any tea with hibiscus leaves, and then chill. Add water and simple syrup to taste before serving.
Roughly translated as ‘fresh waters,’ aguas fresca includes a variety of punch-like drinks that are both sweet and colorful. Technically, both agua de jamaica and horchata are considered aguas fresca, but other traditional options include strained fruit puree, water and agave syrup.
To make aguas fresca: While you can follow a recipe, it’s just as easy to make your own mix. Some popular additions include:
The perfect drink to keep the kids happy and chilled, a chamoyada is basically like a Mexican slushy. The drink gets its name from chamoy, a sweet-spicy condiment made from pickled fruit (mangoes, plums or apricots) and spices like chili pepper and salt. The chamoyada often comes with a tamarind straw (which kids might not like) and a variety of Mexican candies on top (which many kids will like!). You can also make a non-spicy version for kids with delicate palates.
To make chamoyada: In a blender, combine fresh or frozen mango, chamoy, ice and extra spices, if desired. Blend until smooth and slushy.
For those less inclined to create their own Mexican-themed drink, gathering up a variety of Jarritos can keep your Cinco de Mayo both easy and open to all ages. A popular soda in Mexico, Jarrito cola is perfect for children who don’t want to branch out too far from what they already know.
Tejate sits firmly in the category better bought than made. This uber-traditional drink predates the Europeans. So it’s no surprise that it requires a lot more elbow grease than modern-day recipes. On the bright side, you’ll likely get a load of bonus points for working up something so true to Mexican history.
To make tejate: You’ll need toasted maize (corn), fermented cacao beans, toasted mamey (Mexican fruit) pits and flor de cacao. In a food processor, grind them all into a fine paste. Mix the paste with water and a bit of simple syrup. Salud!
Share the Celebration with Everyone
Instead of just overindulging on chips and cervezas, enjoy Cinco de Mayo for what it is: a celebration of Mexican-American culture. These more traditional drinks can help add that bit of culture you crave (minus the headache). Plus, you’ll have plenty of alcohol-free options, so you can open your Cinco celebrations to everyone – kids included!