There will not be customary parades or communal festivities for Cinco de Mayo this year due to Covid-19, but it's still an opportunity for a history lesson—and to drink a celebratory margarita.
First, the history, with help from Encyclopedia Britannica—and a reminder that colonialism is still relatively recent history.
In 1861, English, Spanish and French troops invaded Mexico, seeking repayment of debts. Within the year, the English and Spanish withdrew, but French troops remained in something of a proxy battle to try and limit U.S. power in North America.
(Note that Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16, 1810, is an older holiday by half a century. The lead-up to Cinco de Mayo was (independent) Mexico putting a moratorium on its payments of foreign debts.)
On May 5, 1862, the improbable underdog battle was fought, with largely indigenous Mexican fighters defeating French troops at the Battle of Puebla.
It's a David versus Goliath celebration, and has increasingly become a celebration of Mexican-American heritage in the United States. It's in many cases gone too far, with Americans stereotyping Mexicans in attire, accents, music—the list goes on.
What the holiday can be is a chance to raise a glass of your favorite margarita (we're getting there, promise) in honor of the history that Mexico and the United States share: We both had to fight to free ourselves of foreign powers, and remain independent, democratic nations more than 200 years later.
Lots of restaurants are open with takeout menus (and yes, takeout cocktails are allowed, thank you California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control), but while you're at sheltering in place and maybe making your own margaritas, here are some ideas for margaritas—all best enjoyed outside in a warm, sunny spot—from the Weekly staff.
Mandarin Orange Rita, by Karen Loutzenheiser
Fill glass with ice
Pour 1/3 full with tequila; adjust to your preference
Add juice of 2-3 mandarin oranges
Add juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
Top with Cointreau
Stir and enjoy
The Blended Margarita, by Mary Duan
2 parts Hornitos Plata or Reposado tequila
1 part Triple Sec
Half-part sweet and sour
Half-part strawberry purée
Ice cubes to your liking
Put that all to the blender, and go.
The Basic Margarita, by Sara Rubin
1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 part Cointreau
2 parts tequila
Shake and strain and serve over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge (salted rims are overrated).
The Carmel Valley Bad Dog Margarita, by Bradley Zeve
6 oz. fresh-squeezed organic Meyer lemons
1/2 oz. organic blood or Valencia orange juice
3 oz. of Mescal or smokey tequila
1/2 oz. simple syrup
Shake vigorously, serve up or with ice. Garnish with a leaf of spearmint.
Mirth Provisions Lemon Ginger Indica THC Tonic (those with a lower THC tolerance might cut this with some sparkling water)
Whatever tequila you have on hand (no one is judging, it's shelter-in-place)
Lemons harvested (with permission) from the neighbor's tree
Maldon sea salt
Run a citrus slice over the rim of the glass, coat in Maldon sea salt
Load the glass up with ice
Mix up 2 parts tonic to 1 part tequila
Squeeze as much lemon and lime juice as you can get out of the fruit you have on hand (again, remember it's shelter-in-place—whatever you have to work with).
Stir it up
Pour a floater of Grand Marnier on top
Drink and try not to freak out over the words "Murder Hornets."