Many holidays have an iconic character associated with them. Christmas has Santa Claus. Valentine’s Day has Cupid. Cinco de Mayo has the bartender. Much like St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo is both a cultural celebration and sales enhancer for bars and restaurants. We know what we do on Cinco de Mayo, but why exactly are we celebrating?
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The Mexican army was a big underdog, as they were both smaller and more ill-equipped than their French counterparts. Leading up to that moment, the French army had moved its way across Mexico before encountering the determined forces in Puebla. The battle was won on, you guessed it, May 5th. So Cinco de Mayo must be a huge celebration in Mexico right? Not exactly.
Cinco de Mayo is More Popular in the United States than in Mexico
Our first surprising fact is that the holiday celebrating Mexican heritage is actually a bigger deal in the United States than it is Mexico. Cinco de Mayo or the “Fifth of May,” was more of an inspiration for Mexican-Americans living in the States during the Civil War era. In fact, Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated all that much outside of Puebla and parts of Mexico. The world’s largest Cinco de Mayo party is held in Los Angeles. President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” in 1933, intended to improve relations with Latin American countries, helped pave the way for Cinco de Mayo to become a national holiday.
Beer Companies Made Cinco de Mayo a Big Deal
It wasn’t until the 1980s that the holiday began to transform into the cultural and culinary event that it is today. Thanks to marketers, especially marketers for beer companies, the commercialization of the day took shape. Beer companies saw this day as an untapped opportunity to promote their products when others were not. Marketed as a day for drinking, Cinco de Mayo celebrations take place at nearly every bar and at many restaurants. Corona is one of the major players in Cinco de Mayo advertising, as they were one of the first beers to be promoted as the beer to drink for the holiday. Now, we see advertising ramp up at the beginning of May each year, as along with the Kentucky Derby, it kicks off the summer selling season.
Margaritas are the Most Popular Cinco de Mayo Cocktail
The margarita is far and away the most popular cocktail for Cinco de Mayo festivities. In a study by the Distilled Spirits Council, margaritas make up 42% of all cocktail sales in bars and restaurants on Cinco de Mayo. That’s double what the cocktail does on average during the year. Flavors vary, but the lemon-lime version is most popular on May 5th. And margaritas aren’t a once a year hit, as they account for $2.9 billion in cocktail sales each year.
The Truth About Tequila
No margarita is complete without tequila. The United States is already the largest consumer of tequila in the world, so when the big day rolls around, sales of tequila double. Tequila accounted for 18 percent of liquor sales in bars and restaurants in 2011 and 2012 on Cinco de Mayo. Make sure the bar is stocked with this holiday favorite.
Beer Sales for Cinco de Mayo
While tequila is the liquor of choice on Cinco de Mayo, beer accounts for more than 58% of alcohol sales on the holiday according to Nielson. Sale of beer imported from Mexico increases by 15% during the holiday week. In 2015, beer sales generated over $700 million from the holiday, outpacing the Super Bowl and St. Patrick’s Day. That’s mucho dinero! Americans spend as much as $500 million more on holiday weekends than on regular weekends, which is all the more reason bar and beverage programs should take advantage of the profit potential.
With the right equipment, increasing revenue for your bar or restaurant is possible, whether it’s Cinco de Mayo or not. Read the Perlick Bar & Beverage Guide to discover all of the latest solutions.