A Cinco de Mayo Simple Soirée

Cinco de Mayo is my favorite food holiday. I know I probably say that for every food-related holiday, but let’s be honest — Cinco de Mayo really is the best.

Growing up in Arizona meant a few things. The most important one is that you absolutely must throw a giant Cinco de Mayo party every single year regardless of what day of the week the holiday falls on. We Arizonans take our Cinco de Mayo parties pretty seriously, too. There is never a shortage of freshly made margaritas or sangria and there is always guacamole.

This year I’m going to be in Los Angeles for the holiday and while L.A. is all well and good, there is really nothing like being home in Tucson for a fun fiesta. But never fear, I’m still going all out for Cinco de Mayo this year. These two cocktails will be making an appearance for my fiesta and you should absolutely make them, too. Based loosely on two cocktail recipes from a few of my favorite Food Network stars, I’ll be whipping up a jalapeno-infused margarita and a strawberry raspberry sangria.

Here are my variations:
Jalapeno-Infused Margaritas
1/2 jalapeno
1 cup white tequila
1 lime, halved
Kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice from about 5 limes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 cup Triple Sec
2 cups ice, plus extra for serving

If you like margaritas served in a glass with salt, rub the outside rims of  six glasses with a cut lime and dip each glass lightly into a plate of kosher salt.

In a small bowl, combine the jalapeno and tequila and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours. I let mine go about 24 hours, but be warned, it does get spicier the longer it sets. Once the tequila is infused, remove the jalapeno and discard. Combine the lime juice, lemon juice, Triple Sec, tequila and ice in a large pitcher. Stir to combine and serve as needed. I garnish these with a slice of jalapeno so my guests know what they are in for.

Strawberry Raspberry Sangria
2 (750 ml) bottles of Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 cup brandy
1/3 cup peach liquor
1 orange, juiced
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 (10-ounce) bottle club soda, chilled

Combine the wine, brandy, peach liqueur, fresh orange juice and sugar in a large pitcher and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the fruit and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Stir in the club soda and serve the sangria over ice and enjoy.

Gaby Dalkin is a chef, photographer/food stylist, enthusiastic traveler and guacamole fanatic. She is the founder of What’s Gaby Cooking , where she showcases her simple and sassy recipes that feature whichever ingredients she is currently obsessing over. She lives in Los Angeles with her fiancé, Thomas, and her cat, Stella.

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