There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican cuisine. The May 5th holiday, commemorating the day the Mexican army defeated the French in a battle at Puebla, is perfect for tequila and mezcal cocktails.
One way to spice up your Cinco is with Tajín, a chili-lime-salt seasoning created by a Mexican company in 1985 and has been imported to the U.S. since 1993. The spice, which is technically called Tajín Clasico, has been popping up on menus everywhere and is frequently used as an ingredient or glass rimmer in cocktails.
Miranda Densford, the beverage director at Barn8 Farm Restaurant & Bourbon Bar in Goshen, KY, makes her own version of the spice: She dehydrates the mash from Barn8’s fermented Fresno hot sauce and then mixes it with salt and citric acid. The mixologists at Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. in Purcellville, VA, use Tajín to infuse a “sour water” for cocktails.
Tajín is not just for cocktails, of course. Sara Bradley, chef/proprietor of Freight House in Paducah, KY, uses it in a summer fruit salad to balance out sweet melons while adding tamarind to reinforce the tangy flavors.
Here are the recipes if you want to explore the taste of Tajín for Cinco de Mayo or any summer celebration.
- 1 ½ oz. Catoctin Creek 92 Proof Roundstone rye
- ¼ oz. Dry Curaçao
- 1 oz. Bitter orange syrup
- 1 oz. Fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1 oz. Tajin-infused sour water Combine 2 tbsps. citric acid and 1 tbsp. Tajin powder to 4-½ cups of water.
- Combine ingredients in mixing glass and stir.
- Fine strain pour over fresh ice.
- Garnish with a Tajin-dusted orange rose.
- 2 oz. House-made tepache tepache is a beverage made from fermented pineapple peels that’s popular in Mexico
- 1 ½ oz. Vida mezcal
- ¾ oz. Ginger syrup
- ¾ oz. Lime juice
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
- Shake to chill and dilute (carefully because tepache has carbonation).
- Strain into Collins glass with house tajin on the rim.
- Garnish with a pineapple frond.
- 1 qt. Watermelon cubes cut into 1” squares
- 1 qt. Cantaloupe pieces cut into 1” chunks
- 1-2 tbsps. Tajin spice
- 4 tbsps. Pumpkin seeds toasted
- 8 slices Prosciutto-style country ham or prosciutto
- 1 pint Arugula
- ½ cup Tamarind vinaigrette
- 1 Lime for zesting
- 2 tbsps. Tamarind pulp cleaned of seeds and skins
- ¼ cup Apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsps. Agave nectar
- ½ cup Neutral oil such as rice bran or grapeseed
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- Toast the pumpkin seeds and slice the watermelon, cantaloupe and country ham.
- Make the vinaigrette by combining the tamarind pulp, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, oil and salt together and mixing well, using a whisk, blender bottle, or even in a blender if needed.
- To serve family style, add all the ingredients except the vinaigrette and pumpkin seeds to a large bowl and toss together to combine. Finish by drizzling the vinaigrette overtop and sprinkling with the pumpkin seeds (keep extra of both near the bowl so guests can add more).
- For individual servings, plate the melon and country ham first, sprinkle with Tajin, then top with arugula, pumpkin seeds, vinaigrette and lime zest.