Raise a toast to Latino Heritage Month
The Empire State Building kicked off Latino Heritage Month by shining red, white and green colors onto the New York skylight on September 15 in honor of the Mexican flag.
Like the Big Apple, cities across the country will be paying homage to the contributions of Latinos in the U.S. as part of Latino Heritage Month. The annual celebration began when Los Angeles Congressman Edward R. Roybal introduced legislation to establish Hispanic Heritage Week, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. Twenty years later, the week was expanded into a month through legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan.
September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the yearly commemoration because it falls on the day five Central American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua—celebrate their independence from Spain. Belize, Chile and Mexico mark their independence on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.
Hispanic Heritage Month, as it’s officially declared, is meant to shine a light on the impact Latinos have had on industry, the entertainment arena, the culinary world, and spirits. Because like happy music and savory food, alcohol consumption is an intrinsic part of Latino customs, tradition and culture.
Depending on the country of origin, the contribution of Latinos to the spirit industry is far and wide. Tequila, caipirinha and rum are just a few of the drinks that now please the taste buds of millions who enjoy a refreshing moment.
The many nationalities from Latin America are also represented in the mixed drinks those spirits are part of. Because according to Mintel beverage research, Latino women tend to mix specialty cocktails and one in three Latino males who consume hard alcohol or distilled spirits drink specialty cocktails.
If you’re looking to enjoy some of the Latin American flavors, here are five mixed drinks from south of the border.
Margarita: invented in Mexico, this cocktail is a celebration of the country’s most celebrated spirit, tequila, a distilled beverage from blue agave in the state of Jalisco. A balanced margarita includes tequila, triple sec and fresh lime juice. Pour it in ice and salt the rim of the glass for a smooth, refreshing and oh-so-delicious drink.
Mojito: created amidst the sunny, sand swept beaches of Cuba, this beverage is one of the most popular Latin cocktails of all time. It features rum, a liquor made by fermenting and then distilling sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice, which is later aged in oak barrels.
Caipirinha: Brazil’s national drink is made with sweet sugar-cane cachaça, sugar and lime for a refreshing, sweet, spicy beverage. Legend has it the caipirinha –diminutive for caipira, which refers to someone from the countryside, was invented by landowners in the State of Sao Paulo during the 19th century, where it was enjoyed at community celebrations and house parties.
Pisco Sour: Chile and Peru both claim to be the origin of this beverage that includes the pisco brandy, and each country prepares it a little different. Peru mixes pisco with limes, whipped egg whites and Angostura bitters. Chile just leaves the limes, but you can try them both to see what you prefer. Simple, yet sophisticated, this cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to any meal and has earned millions of fans.
Michelada: also from Mexico, these beer cocktails quickly crossed the border and have become a fixture in Latino areas of the U.S. A combination of a Bloody Mary and beer, micheladas can get very complex, with all sorts of flavorful combinations that include vegetable juice, lime, hot sauce and many other ingredients. It all starts with beer and Latinos know beer. Each country has its own particular brand, some of which have expanded into world-renowned brands like Tecate, Gallo and the famous/infamous Corona.
Some of these classic drinks have roots that date back hundreds of years, pleasing dozens of generations along the way. They are fresh, savory and colorful cocktails, representing the sweet, salty, and complex Latin American zone, a region where native and Spanish heritage mix to produce some of the world’s best dishes, most renowned artists, music and rhythms and most colorful traditions.
If you want to learn how to perfectly mix these drinks, or learn more about other spirits and cocktails that hail from Latin America, SommTable is offering a series of virtual educational series featuring top Latino Sommeliers.
Proceeds from these Sommclass will benefit Latino experts whose restaurants and bars have been impacted by the coronavirus-related closures.
The virtual tasting series will bring together wine, tequila, and beer experts who will share their knowledge about spirits with fun and engaging sessions touching on a number of Latin American customs and traditions.
The educational series is part of Sommtable’s mission to create an online community where people of all walks of life and tastes can come together to learn, discuss and enjoy beverages from around the world.
Sommclass are the ideal place to swap stories, share best moments and get inside knowledge about food and drinks from some of the best known Sommeliers.
Most of all, they are the perfect excuse to spend a good time at home, get to know other people who enjoy a good drink, and all together say, Salud!