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Sangria's Bold Cousin
By Jonathan Miles

Julieta Ballesteros is willing to concede that her Agua Loca — a superspiked, sangria-ish drink on the menu at Crema, the haute Mexican restaurant that she and her partners opened in New York — is the ideal beverage for your Cinco de Mayo celebration. She just doesn't get why you'll be celebrating.

"In Mexico we don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo," said Ms. Ballesteros, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, who is the former chef at Mexicana Mama in the West Village. "And I can't understand why you guys do. It's a bit confusing. It's a national holiday in Mexico, so the banks aren't open, but we don't celebrate it like we do our Independence Day in September." (Ms. Ballesteros excused herself, in fact, to check with someone in the kitchen to determine what precisely it is that Cinco de Mayo commemorates: "A battle between the French and Mexicans.")

But O.K., America, fiesta on. Chip and dip yourselves to high heaven. But please do Ms. Ballesteros a favor. Skip the sangria, that pitcher staple of Mexican restaurants from here to Wichita. "It's not Mexican at all," she said. "It's Spanish. Maybe it's because we're related to Spain." Ms. Ballesteros shrugged. More ... Cooking Articles


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