May is shaping up to be an exciting month. The snow has all melted, and the lake will soon be seeing recreational boaters and windsurfers galore.
While not exactly local news, May 5 will mark the Mexican national holiday Cinco de Mayo to commemorate the Mexican victory over the invading French army.
What does this have to do with liquor, you ask? Patience, grasshopper. First the history lesson, then the boozing. Back in 1862, Mexico owed large foreign debts to Britain, Spain, and France.
Diplomatic agreements for repayment were made with Britain and Spain, but Emporer Napoleon III of France (you know, the short guy with a bad temper) was all hot-to-trot about increasing the size of the French empire. A well-armed French invasion force of 6500 soldiers marched upon Mexico City, expecting a quick and easy victory over the ill-equipped Mexican militia.
However, the tenacious and cunning Mexican soldiers and peasants quickly defeated the much larger French invasion force, leading to muchos national pride and celebrations that ring throughout Mexico and even far-off lands such as Alberta every May 5. That’s it for the history lesson – on to the boozing!
In a show of solidarity for our Mexican comrades, your borracho liquor columnist will be spending Cinco de Mayo munching on enchiladas pollo, and partaking of the full range of liquid refreshments their country has to offer. A few of my favorites are shown below.
Sangria is a great drink for sitting out on the end of your dock and watching the world go by on a hot summer day. My hot-blooded Latina paramour has taught me her secret family recipe – be sure not to tell any city slickers about it!
I like to start with a bottle of dry red wine, usually a Shiraz. Don’t use an expensive red wine – it won’t make a difference. Take a few swigs from the bottle, then pour the rest into a large jug. Add half a cup of orange juice. Slice up an apple and a lime, then throw them in. Add two ounces of Triple Sec, and top up the jug with 7up or soda water. Serve it over ice in large tumblers or wine glasses, and you’ll be feeling Mexican in no time!
If you’re going to be drinking Mexican-style all night, please get the tequila dealt with early in the evening. Finishing a night with tequila is a recipe for making a sacrifice to the ancient porcelain goddess, if you know what I mean.
A uniquely Mexican drink, Tequila was North America’s first distilled liquor, and first commercially produced alcohol. Made by fermenting the sap of the agave plant, it has been in production since the 1500’s. Named for the small town of Tequila (surprise!), which is just outside of Guadalajara, this drink is either for slamming with a lick of salt and a lime wedge, or sipping in a cocktail like a Tequila Sunrise.
And now, wanting to save the best for last, are those fine Mexican beers. There’s really nothing like a cold Mexican beer on a hot summer day. While Corona is the old and faithful standby that we all know and love, there’s more out there if you know what to look for. Much like Canada, the Mexican beer industry is dominated by two megabreweries, FEMSA Cerveza, and Grupo Modelo.
FEMSA Cerveza produces Tecate, Sol, and Dos Equis, while Grupo Modelo produces Corona, Especial, and Pacifico. Similar to the way Canadian bars will usually serve Coke or Pepsi (but not both), Mexican bars and cantinas will often serve products from only one of the megabreweries.
Interestingly enough, the Amsterdam-based Heineken International acquired a controlling interest in FEMSA Cerveza in 2010, so some of the most popular domestic Mexican beers are now owned by a Dutch company.
Mexican beers are mostly light-tasting pale pilsner-style lagers, that are easily drinkable, leave no aftertaste, and are best served straight from the fridge, or kept on ice in a cooler for those lawn parties. Despite the many disparaging comments I have made over the years about the evils of drinking your beer straight from the bottle, Mexican beers are the one exception that do not need to be poured into a glass to fully enjoy them.
Until next week, gentle readers, hasta luego and may all your drinking memories be happy ones.