Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo, illustration, horse racing, tequila, serape

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Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, and not Mexican independence, as most of us north of border commonly believe. These days it’s mostly ignored in Mexico and has been entirely co-opted by Americans as an excuse to drink excessive amounts of tequila and eat mounds of guacamole and chips without guilt. It’s not usually a “holiday” for which I get my “festive” on.

This year, however, the fifth of May also happens to be the first Saturday in May, which means it’s Kentucky Derby Day! This is a day, as all of you loyal readers of this blog are aware that I do celebrate.

As I’ve said in the past, going to the Derby is near the top of my bucket list. One would think it was within reach given the family I have living within a stone’s throw of Churchill Downs. (This year would have been an especially good time to be there as one of my brothers is planning to propose to his girlfriend at the track.  It could be happening as I type this! I can’t wait to see the promised video!)

I, like most of the world, will have to be content to watch the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” on television. A couple of friends will be joining me on the couch, which naturally means snacks and adult bevies will be involved.

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The official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby is, of course, the Mint Julep, but unfortunately, I’m not a fan. (I know, sacrilege!) Instead, I took inspiration from the many food blogs and Pinterest boards telling me how to combine a Cinco De Mayo and Derby Day celebration. We will be having tequila-based cocktails.  I love a simple, fresh Margarita (on the rocks, with salt) and I’ll have a batch of those on hand.

margarita, tequila, Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo, cocktail, lime

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Last night, I experimented and made a peach cosmo with tequila instead of vodka. I thought a cosmo with tequila was no longer a cosmo, but according to the internet, it’s a “Tequila Cosmo.” Not very imaginative. I did find a recipe for something called a “Mexipolitan,” but it used simple syrup in addition to the usual ingredients and I didn’t like the sound of that.

For my cocktail, add the following to a shaker: 1 ½ oz Tequila, ½ oz Triple Sec, ½ oz Peach Schnapps, 1 oz lime juice, 2 oz White Peach Cranberry Juice. Shake until chilled, strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and/or peach slice. (I didn’t have any peaches. I just made this up, remember?)

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What should I call it? Any ideas?

Last, but not least, the Paloma. It’s light, refreshing and one of the most straightforward cocktails you’ll ever put together. Fill a high-ball glass with ice (salt the rim first if you want), add 2 ½ oz tequila, a squeeze of lime juice then top with grapefruit soda like Squirt, Fresca or Jarritos. The latter is the authentic ingredient. It’s a hugely popular Mexican soft-drink, and you can get it in the US. Stir ingredients together gently. Garnish with a wedge of lime. You can also add a splash of red grapefruit juice to achieve the blush color. Do not be fooled by recipes that call for squeezing fresh grapefruit juice and making your own simple syrup, yadda yadda yadda. The original form of the cocktail calls for grapefruit soda. Not everything has to be difficult.

Paloma, Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo, tequilla, grapefruit

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Naturally, we will be munching on guacamole and tortilla chips, but I’m throwing in some chilled shrimp – just to keep it classy.

It’s almost time to break out the hats and check your racing forms! Post-time for the big race isn’t until 6:50 PM, Eastern, so you can still pick your favorite and place a wager if you’re so inclined.  Here’s the field for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby:

Kentucky Derby, 2018, odds, field, churchill downs

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I may or may not have put a small bet on Justify.  (Not only because I loved the series of the same name, but he has the chance to be the first three-year-old since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby despite not having raced as a two-year-old.) He’s trained by four-time Derby winner Bob Baffert with Mike Smith, chasing his first win since 2005, in the stirrups.

If Audible wins and he very well might, the book company for which he’s named will give all comers a copy of American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner’s Legendary Rise, by Joe Drape. (The audiobook version, of course.) If Audible wins, we all win!

Will you be watching the Kentucky Derby? Who’s your favorite? Will you be celebrating Cinco De Mayo? Both? Share your plans in the comments; we’d love to read them!