Spicy Cinco de Mayo cocktails

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a few tongue-tantalizing cocktails featuring the heat of chili peppers. Go beyond the classic margarita and sip one of these spicy Mexican-inspired drinks.

pepper cocktail

Using chilies in cocktails

If you enjoy a little spice now and then, give it a try in cocktails. You can achieve the perfect balance of spicy and sweet when you combine chili peppers with citrus and a sweetener. The key is getting that perfect balance.

Taste: When making cocktails with any kind of chili pepper, one of the most important things is to taste while mixing. Everyone has a different tolerance for spice, so simply following a recipe can result in too much or too little heat and flavor for your palate. Before adding a chili to your mix, give it a taste to make sure it is not too spicy.

Best chilies: Some of the best peppers to use in cocktails are the chili serrano, jalapeno, or chili pequin pepper because they are in the mid-spicy range. You can also use a habanero if you prefer even more heat in your drink.

Adjust the heat: Keep in mind that if you start out with an extremely spicy pepper, it is difficult to take away the heat. If you do happen to add too much spice, a little citrus juice like lemon, lime, or orange juice may temper the heat. You can also gradually add some sugar water to dilute and counter the spice.

Prep the peppers: To prep the chili peppers for your cocktail, thinly slice them and remove all of the seeds. Seeds are difficult to muddle, and you don’t want to have seeds in your drink. After you add the chili pepper flesh to the cocktail shaker, muddle it into a fine paste. Shake with the rest of the ingredients.

Garnish: Garnish your drinks with a slice of chili pepper to give your guests a visual of the spice and heat.

Cinco de Mayo drink Recipes

Sweet and Spicy Diablo

Makes 1 serving


  • 2 cilantro leaves
  • 1 Serrano chili sliced 1/4-inch thick, seeds removed
  • 4 ounces tequila blanco
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup


  1. Combine cilantro and chili in a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Pour in tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup and shake well.
  2. Strain drink into a rocks glass and garnish with a slice of Serrano chili.

Pequin and Pineapple

Makes 1 cocktail


  • 1 chili pequin, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2-inch piece of orange peel
  • 4 ounces tequila blanco
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce orange juice


  1. Combine chili and orange peel in a cocktail shaker. Muddle until oil from peel comes out.
  2. Pour tequila, pineapple juice, and orange juice into a shaker and shake well.
  3. Strain cocktail into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of chili.

Spicy Grapefruit

Makes 1 serving


  • 2 slices habanero pepper, seeds removed, plus one whole to garnish
  • 1-1/2 ounces reposado tequila
  • 1 ounce grapefruit juice
  • 1 dash grapefruit bitters


  1. Place habanero in a cocktail shaker and muddle until pepper is finely ground.
  2. Pour tequila, grapefruit juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker and shake well.
  3. Strain cocktail into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a whole pepper.

More Cinco de Mayo recipes

Delicious Cinco de Mayo feast
Fiesta! Cinco de Mayo recipes and party ideas
Types of hot peppers