Cinco de Mayo – Top 5 Tips for a Fab Fiesta

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Why Party on Cinco de Mayo?

Well first of all, May 5 falls on a Saturday this year, so…duh. Second, the day is actually about celebrating the unlikely defeat of France by the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla in the Franco-Mexican War in 1862. (And you thought it was a commemoration of the birth of margaritas. Don’t worry, common mistake). Funny enough, it’s a minor holiday in Mexico but has evolved into a huge celebration of Mexican culture in the U.S. Which probably all comes back to the margarita thing. We at iBBQ love any excuse to gather people together, and Cinco de Mayo is a good one no matter how you look at it. So we thought we’d grill up a few ideas for you to throw a fiesta your friends will remember for muchos anos. (I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity to use my Spanglish, so you may need Google Translate to get through this, but it will be so worth it on Sabado.)

5 Tips for an Unforgettable Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

1. The Best Margarita Ever

I happen to have an inside line on margarita mixing. My brother Tod Johnson, aka J.J. (yes, makes no sense; should be my nickname), General Manager of The Laundry in Steamboat Springs and Beverage Director of Steamboat Restaurant Group, created this sizzling hot, muy caliente, killer margarita recipe. His Fiery Margarita won Best of the Boat “Best Cocktail” for the last three years running—and trust me, those people in ski towns know their drinks, especially my bro, who also has won Best Bartender in the ‘Boat twice in the past.

A Fiery Margarita

The Laundry Kitchen and Cocktails Fiery Margarita

Fiery Margarita Recipe

1 ½ oz. Pepper Infused Silver Tequila ½ oz. Cilantro/ Lemongrass Simple Syrup 1 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice ¾ oz. Orange Juice ¾ oz. Triple Sec

Combine ingredients with regular ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake (bonus points for using shaker like a maraca) and strain over fresh ice. Salt the rim of the glass and then garnish with a lime for the finishing touch. Serve to friends and watch your fiesta heat up! If you have any margarita or drink related questions, the specialist in my family welcomes your queries: jj@thelaundryrestaurant.com. (Or better yet, stop by in person at The Laundry and ask for a drink on the house.)

2. Grilled Chicken or Steak with Corona Beer

If you have an image in your head of a guy standing over a grill with a Corona in his hand, that is not what I mean. What I mean is any recipe with Corona beer in it totally works for Cinco de Mayo. You can buy a few cases, open one bottle to add to your marinade, and drink the rest. I better clarify that: make the marinade before you drink the rest. Simply mix half a Corona with  a 1/2 cup of olive oil, 2 T lime juice, a garlic clove, 2 T sugar, and a dash of salt. Marinade steak or chicken for an hour. Reapply marinade while grilling on your iBBQ Angara grill table and pair with a round of Fiery Margaritas!

Steak grilling on the Angara with beer bottle on the side

Social grilling on iBBQ’s Angara Grill Table

The best thing about this bbq party is our social grilling concept. It may be too late to order an Angara in time for this fete, but bbq season has just begun! The Angara is a luxury grill table that makes it possible for everyone—including the host—to join in on the festivities. No one has to be relegated to standing at a grill all night. Angara will have everyone cooking and conversing!

3. Sombreros

Hit Party City and buy some sombreros to have on hand for party shots (you can read “shots” two ways here; add either a camera or tequila, or both).

Giant poster of Ben in a sombrero

The Bena Lisa (with dining room chair to show scale)

A friend blew up this shot of my husband, Ben, from a Cinco de Mayo party at a neighbor’s house, into a giant poster. It hung in our dining room for a year—scaring away parents of potential playdates.We call it the Bena Lisa, as its eyes follow you wherever you go. Obviously this memorable artwork never would have existed without the sombrero. It is key.

Also, a little known trick and crowd pleaser: the mustache. The Bena Lisa’s mustache (“el bigote”) looks real, right? It’s drawn on with…a burnt cork (from any wine bottle). So all you need is a sombrero, some charcoal, a goofy/slightly psycho expression (perhaps achieved with the help of Fiery Margaritas), and you too could have a larger-than-life memento from your epic Cinco de Mayo party. (The one we attended was actually masked as a big tent – mariachi band affair for a 2-year-old’s birthday party, but it was totally an excuse for the adults to take advantage of the tot’s convenient date of birth.)

4. Mariachi Music

Ok, so the mariachi band is a really nice, festive touch. But if you can’t find one or hiring a band is not in the budget, youtube has some great Mexican music mixes like this one:

5. Fun People

Now for the most important ingredients. You definitely need a few fearless Fiery Margarita drinking, Tequila-shot taker types. (I don’t know about in your ‘hood, but they aren’t hard to find around here.) Then you need some dancers. Someone who will drag your abuela onto the dance floor and have her reliving her moves for her quinceanera. If you get a dancer-drinking-sombrero/ash mustache wearin’ guy who ends up on a poster in your dining room, then you know you have achieved a victory as fine as that of the Mexican army in 1862. Viva Mexico!

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