Cinco De Mayo’s Origins & 4 Whiskey-Based Takes On Iconic Tequila Cocktails

Ahhh Cinco De Mayo, A day filled with tacos, guacamole, and margaritas….. or is it? Today we explore the real reason behind this holiday and yes, for you whiskey lovers, whiskey-based alternatives to a few traditionally tequila-driven cocktails. So sit back, relax, and seamos festivos!

Sometimes confused with the Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo celebrates an important battle during the French & Mexican war that was fought in the town of Puebla. On May 5, 1862, in a battle lasting from sun up to almost sun down, the Mexican army – who had as few as 2000 soldiers – fought courageously against a much larger force. All told, upward of 6000 men. to become victorious defeating the French army. Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza, who was only 33 years old when he led his soldiers to victory over the French was given a huge honor to thank him for his victory. The town of Puebla, where the battle took place, was renamed Zaragoza in his honor. A few weeks later, when American and Latinos in California heard the news of how Zaeagoza’s troops had defeated the French army, they took to the streets to celebrate. While some towns just cheered with excitement, others celebrated with food, drinks, and dancing.

Fast forward to present day: In Mexico, Cinco de Maya is known as El Día de la Batalla de Puebla, in English is translated to “The Day of the Battle of Puebla”. This holiday is mostly a regional holiday celebrating the victory over the French troops. Residents celebrate with social gatherings, parties, military parades, and reenactments. Here in the US, Cinco de Mayo has become a nationwide reason to celebrate…. And drink. With huge celebrations in every major city, parties in every neighborhood, and drink specials in every bar and most restaurants, over 55% of all American will flock to one of the over 50,000 Mexican restaurants to socialize and party. Another fun fact, 32 percent of Americans will celebrate by having a Margarita.

Speaking of the famous tequila-based drink, let’s talk about cocktails. While I know a lot of you are fans the Margarita, there are some of us out here that, lets just say, cant take the Tequila. So, for all you whiskey and bourbon lovers, here are a few of my alternatives to the Paloma, the Tequila Sunrise, and to the famous Margarita.

Carlos Paloma

Named after of young man who thought that he could hold his Tequila, but quickly found out that he could not. After by waking up on the floor, he stuck to what he knew best… bourbon. This is a fun and interesting take on the Tequila based drink known the world over as The Paloma. Try this with the Privada Spirits: Tequila..


  • 1.5 oz Knob Creek Rye
  • 1.5 oz Patron Silver
  • 2 oz Grapefruit Juice
  • 0.5 oz Lime Juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syurip
  • Club Soda


  1. Add all of your ingredients into a shaker
  2. Add ice
  3. Shake for 15 to 20 seconds
  4. Add a splash of club soda to the shaker
  5. Add fresh ice to your Highball glass
  6. Strain your shakers into glass
  7. Garnish

Rocky Top Sunrise

Oh Rocky Top, You’ll always be home sweet home to me. For me, there’s nothing better than waking up on a Saturday morning and watching the sun rise over the Smoky Mountains. The glow in the sky, the birds chirping, and the misty fog laying over the mountain tops and resting down in the valleys. If you haven’t experienced it before, you should. You can honor this beautiful sight with a play on the Tequila Sunrise utilizing Tennessee whiskey. Try this one with the Matilde Quadrata.


  • 1.25 oz Uncle Nearest 1856
  • 1 oz Pineapple Puree
  • 0.5 oz agave
  • 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
  • 2 Basil Leaves
  • Lime Wheel for garnish


  1. Cut and puree one pineapple
  2. In a shaker
  3. Muddle your basil leaves with your agave
  4. Add your other ingredients to your shaker
  5. Add ice
  6. Shake well for 15 to 20 seconds
  7. Add an ice ball to your rocks glass
  8. Strain your shaker over the ice ball
  9. Garnish with a lime wheel and a basil leaf

Chattanooga Maragrita

Named after the city in Tennessee where both Chattanooga whiskey and yours truly were born, The Nooga-Rita is a whiskey-based iteration of the beloved Margarita that uses Chattanooga Whiskey’s Cask 111 Tennessee High Malt Whiskey. Try this with the Room 101 The Big Payback Nicaragua.


  • I.5 oz Lime Juice
  • 1.5 oz Agave Syrup
  • 2 oz Chattanooga Whiskey 111
  • Fresh Mint
  • 1 Lime
  • Margarita Salt


  1. Start with a margarita glass and salt the rim
  2. Add crushed (or cubed ice if that’s all you have)
  3. In a shaker, add ice
  4. Add your lime juice, Agave, and whiskey to your shaker
  5. Shake for 15 to 20 seconds
  6. Strain over your crushed ice
  7. Add a lime wheel and mint for garnish


A story as old as time. Someone thought they were Superman when it came to the simple Margarita. The valuable lesson he learned was that Tequila is definitely his kryptonite. Swearing never to be defeated like that again, he went back to his former love, whiskey! Try this with the Rocky Patel Number 6.


  • 1.5 oz Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Triple sec
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz agave
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 1 lime


  1. In a shaker add ice
  2. Add your Rye, triple sec, lime juice, and agave to the shaker
  3. Shake for 15 to 20 seconds
  4. Pour into rocks glass over ice
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge and a slice of jalapeno

Lets chat!!! What did you think about this article? I would love to know. How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Put it in the comments. Good conversation, good cigars, and good whiskey is why we are here. As always, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Until next time, if you’re going to enjoy a little smoke & oak just remember, “Life’s too short, enjoy the good stuff”…. and do it responsibly! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @smoke_n_oak_tn. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Cinco de Mayo!