Cinco De Mayo Menus And History

photo credit: jacktoon

A Brief History

Cinco de Mayo or 5th of May is the celebration of the Mexican victory over the French Army in 1862. The battle took place in Puebla, Mexico and this is in fact the only part of Mexico that still celebrates Cinco de Mayo today with vigor.

In short, a rag-tag group of Mexican soldiers exhausted, outnumbered and poorly supplied were able to fend off the French army from capturing Puebla de Los Angeles. This was an amazing victory for the local Mexican army as well as a major point of pride for the residents of Puebla.

papel picado 

The U.S. Adopts The Holiday

The U.S. has since adapted the holiday as practically its own. According to Valerie Menard (The Latino Holiday Book), popularity of the holiday in the U.S. started back when in California when it was part of Northern Mexico.  The Mexican population began celebrating the holiday to show solidarity with their "mother country".  Later, in 1864 a San Francisco resident hosted a Cinco de Mayo dance that became an annual event through the 1950's.  Today, many cities host Cinco de Mayo parades and festivities.

So grab your molcajete, stock up on fajita fixin's and join in on the fun. If you would like to read more about the history this is a good source: Read More from

Drinks - Before And After

Traditional festival drinks include simple aguas frescas like agua de tamarindo or agua de jamaica.  For the adults try a traditional margarita or famous West Coast La Tuna (prickly pear) drink. 

Agua de Tamarindo Made with tamarind pods and produces a tart cooling drink.
Michelada Cocktail Mexican beer kicked up with lime, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and Soy Sauce
Sangria Mix red wine with club soda, brandy and triple sec, oranges, lemons and lime
Non - Alcoholic Sangria A non-alcoholic version uses grape juice or de-alcoholized wine.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Uses Mexican chocolate, vanilla bean and milk
Margarita (Traditional) Tequila, triple sec, lime
Aguas Frescas Fresh fruit "waters" made with fruit sugar and water. A Mexican tradition.
Coctel Bandera Mexicana Mexican Flag Cocktail The fruit represents the colors of the Mexican flag, red, white and green.
La Tuna, Prickly Pear Cocktail Popular along the West Coast of Mexico
Agua de Jamaica Jamaica is hibiscus flowers and are steeped and made into a refreshing chilled beverage

View All Cinco De Mayo Drink Recipe Suggestions>>

Appetizers (Antojitos)

No Cinco de Mayo celebration would be complete without a molcajete filled with guacamole.
Guacamole en Molcajete with Tomatillos Includes tomatillos, garlic, avocados, onion and cilantro with optional serrano chile.
Molcajete Salsa with Roasted Chilies Roasting tomatoes and chiles brings out the flavor of this traditional salsa
Fried Quesadillas I Traditional fried quesadilla with cheese and chile filling
Gorditas Gorditas are "fat" little cakes made from masa that have been either baked or fried. These little snacks are served with a variety of toppings including cheese (con queso)
Tomatillo Salsa Tomatillo Salsa with onions, garlic, lime, serrano chiles and cilantro
John's Cactus Salsa Salsa made with nopalitos (cactus)

View our complete list of Cinco de Mayo Appetizer recipes for some specialty salsas, gorditas and more.

Fun Fact about Cinco De Mayo Menus And History

More Party Fun

mexican paper flowersYou can purchase traditional Mexican fiesta decorations at your local Mexican market if you have one.  Otherwise you can buy online.  Here are are few suggestions:

  • Papel Picado - these are the traditional hand-cut paper banners.  They are usually available in 12' to 14' strands in various colors and themes.  They can also be purchased made of plastic if you prefer.
  • Large Paper Flowers - these are one of my favorite decorations, not just for fiestas. They are so colorful and brighten any room.
  • Pinatas - No party is complete without a pinata.  Select anything from traditional Star shapes to you favorite cartoon character.

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.