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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Cinco De Mayo

Everyone loves to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Yet, ask those same people about the origins of the holiday and you will be surprised how little they know.

After sending out invitations to my little fiesta, I was amused at the responses I received from my (highly educated) friends.

How do they celebrate the holiday in Spain? It's Mexican...

Would I be hanging a skeleton on the door? It's not the Day the Dead...

What day is it on? Cinco de Mayo is the 5th of May in Spanish...duh!

For those of you that care, Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico that celebrates the victory of Mexican forces over the French occupation in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862.

For the rest of you, it's just a night to party and drink a lot of tequila. Here is what you need to know:

Tequila is made from the blue agave plant and was first produced in the early 1800's in Western Mexico. It is considered North America's first indigenous distilled spirit. There are 3 major categories:

Blanco or Silver:
Clean and transparent with strong flavor of the blue agave. Bottled right after distillation.

Pale color with mellow flavor. Blanco aged in white oak casks for 2 months to 1 year.

Amber color with woody rich flavor. Aged for more than 1 year in oak barrels.

I'm serving two types of Milagro tequila for my party. Silver for those who want to have margaritas and mojitos. Select Barrel Reserve Anejo, which is aged for three years, for connoisseurs who prefer their tequila over ice with nothing more than a squeeze of lime.

To try something new, head down to La Esquina (203 Lafayette Street, 646-613-7100), one of my favorite Mexican restaurants which has an incredible tequila menu with over 100 choices as well as some super premium selections such as Patron Gran Platinum ($48/glass) and Don Julio "1942" ($44/glass). Their waitstaff is very knowledgeable so ask them for recommendations. Order the Tequila Flights, tastings of three, which will introduce you to new flavors and combinations.

So, unless you just returned from Spring Break, please retire the shot glass. With so many premium choices of tequila these days, growing up has never been more fun!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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