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Posted at 2:11 PM ET, 05/ 1/2008

Best Bets for Cinco de Mayo

By Fritz Hahn

Monday is Cinco de Mayo, and for the next four days, there are a lot of parties on our plate -- some barely or only slightly tangentially related to the Mexican army's great victory over the French forces at the Battle of the Puebla in 1862. If you're looking to celebrate, I've put together this handy guide. If you have more questions, read through the Cinco de Mayo events in the weekly Nightlife Agenda column, or ask questions during today's Got Plans? discussion.

Best Reason to Sneak Out of Work a Few Hours (and a Few Days) Early
Five downtown bars are offering $2 beers and $3 margaritas as part of Dos de Mayo, a mini bar crawl that consists of deals at five happy hour spots on Friday afternoon. There's a $5 cover, but you'll make it up in savings, since the specials run until 10 p.m.

Best Reason to Sneak Out of Work Early on Cinco de Mayo
Caribbean Breeze is one of the best happy hours around -- something about those $2.99 Mexican beers, $2.99 appetizers and $5 mojitos and margaritas. On Cinco de Mayo, the party's being extended to the quiet, comfortable patio, with an outdoor bar serving up specials on Mexican beers in addition to the usual discounts. A mariachi band performs from 5 to 8, and a DJ spins salsa, Spanish hip-hop and other Latin music from 10 until close.

Best Place for "Social Networking"
So you actually want to meet a potential date with a good job on Cinco de Mayo? Ordinarily we'd scoff at mixing dates and holidays, but the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C., the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and the Hispanic Lobbyists Association are among the groups sponsoring the annual Cinco de Mayo Happy Hour at Ultrabar. Amid all the free food, drink specials and dance music, there should be at least a few love connections waiting to be made.

Best Place Where You Might Use the Pick-Up Line "Nice Sombrero"
Clarendon Ballroom's annual Cinco de Mania usually pulls a capacity crowd of revelers looking for an excuse to party, whether they're hanging out on the roof deck or rocking out to Everyone But Pete or DJ Lil' Fos on the main floor. "Fiesta attire" is encouraged, which means you'll see a lot of guys wearing overly large sombreros and fake bushy mustaches. Consider them a made-to-order opening line.

Best Place to Shoot Tequila
Wear the combination of red, white and green and you get a free shot of tequila before you've even spent 10 seconds inside Cafe Citron. (To get this deal, men can also wear "a really bushy mustache" while women can don a bikini, but putting on Los Tricolores of the Mexican flag just sounds easier.) There are more drink specials once you get inside, including $5 shots and $25 large pitchers of margaritas, but you can't beat free.

Best Place to Sip Tequila
Oyamel's Will Earls fell in love with tequila while bartending in his hometown of Austin, Texas, and he makes some of the best tequila drinks I've ever tasted. Earls is now plying his trade at Oyamel, and he's come up with some interesting ideas for the holiday, including Charro Negro, which combines Herradura Blanco tequila with the bottled version of Mexican Coca-Cola, made with natural sugar cane. There are also sangritas, or a Bloody Mary-style mix of tomatoes, chilies and oranges meant to accompany shots of tequila. Purchase any glass and get the accompaniment free. (For non-tequila fans, I should point out that Oyamel's offering $2 cans of Tecate beer or $2 micheladas -- Tecate served over a mix of spices and salt.

Best Place to Sip Tequila Drinks
Ladies, I'm not sure why you'd be anywhere other than Lima on Cinco de Mayo. Not only is the lounge persisting in its weekly women-only open bar from 9 to 11, everyone can grab two-for-one frozen margaritas from 6 p.m. on. Did I mention the free salsa lessons?

Best Place to Actually Learn About the Tequila You've Been Drinking
Wisely, perhaps, the Mexican Cultural Institute is waiting until your hangover has subsided before offering "A Travel to the Tequila Landscape." This tasting and seminar features tequila producers and historians talking about the production and traditions of the drink and leading an illustrated tour through the blue agave country, followed by a sampling of several kinds of tequila. If this sounds like your thing, jump on it: a limited number of reservations are available, and they must be made by May 2.

Best Place for Salsa Dancers
Sin Miedo (listen) and DJ Andy Thursday night at Costa Verde. You can skip the lessons if you want, but there will be lively dancing and plenty of potential partners enjoying the Clarendon restaurant's two floors. Sin Miedo is consistently one of the area's finest bands, mixing salsa and Latin jazz, while DJ Andy knows how to keep beginners and experienced salseros on the floor all night.

Best Place for Would-Be Salsa Dancers
Take the free lessons at Costa Verde, or spend Friday night at Cecilia's, where the package from Pros in the City includes salsa lessons, DJs spinning hits to practice to, a dance contest and live music by Sin Miedo. There are bound to be more beginners at Cecilia's, so if you're unsure, make reservations there.

Best Event for the Kids
Sunday's National Cinco de Mayo Festival on the Mall is a cavalcade of sights and sounds, from dancers, mariachis and Mexican cowboys to a special area where children can build their own piñatas, make crafts and play Mexican games.

Best Places Parents and Kids Will Enjoy for Different Reasons
The two Austin Grill restaurants in Montgomery County are getting in the Cinco de Mayo spirit, throwing block parties with live music, games and special attractions just for children. Rockville's is on Saturday, and it kicks off with a special children's brunch at 11. Singer John Henry England is the performer until noon; after that, rock and county music are featured on the outside stage. The branch in Silver Spring is saving its party until May 5, and from 5 p.m. on, there's face painting, dancing and activities for children, plus mariachi music and salsa performances on a stage that blocks Ellsworth Drive. The neighborhood's popular fountains-turned-sprayground will be on, weather permitting, so kids can splash around. Austin Grill is extending its patio by 60 feet for the day to create a "Mexican Beer Garden," serving regional beer as well as Tex-Mex food. (You can enter to win a year's supply of dinners from Austin Grill; the winner will be drawn at 7 p.m.) After the outdoor activities end, live bands take the stage inside from 9:30 until the wee hours.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | May 1, 2008; 2:11 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Music  
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can you shotin it up plese

Posted by: Anonymous | May 1, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

i liked it. I thought it was really great. MUCHOS MUCHOS MUCHOS BIEN!!!

lol...i don't tink i spelt tat right but eh

Posted by: ~NooDLE~ | May 2, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

anything you do has to have tequila and music to dance to. i can't give you booze via the internet, but i sure can give you music...


Posted by: tyler | May 2, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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