Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the celebration of Mexico’s Independence – which is celebrated on September 16.

The fifth of May commemorates the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, when the Mexican army came away with an unlikely victory over France. The President of Mexico at the time, President Benito Juarez, declared May 5th a national holiday, and although it’s no longer celebrated as such, many schools do close to honor the battle.

Interestingly, the popularity of the holiday is linked to alcohol producers – mostly beer suppliers. In the 1950s and 1960s, beer companies capitalized on the holiday’s rising recognition in California and promoted it.

In the United States today, general American interest in Cinco de Mayo centers around food, drinks, and festivities. The most popular drinks are largely, and unsurprisingly, tequila based. Grenada, Margaritas, Dulce de Tequila, and more are served at bars and restaurants to celebrate. Typical Mexican beers offered include Indio Cerveza, Pacifico, Dos Equis, Bohemia, Modelo Especial, and the #1 imported beer in America: Corona.

Alcohol suppliers and distributors must have inventory stocked and POS execution arranged weeks before Cinco de Mayo, so that promotions and other offers are timely. Tequila is definitely the most popular liquor for Cinco de Mayo, and liquor stores and groceries work to ensure bottle POS is perfect.

For many businesses, the struggle regarding holidays surrounds relevance. When is too early for promotions to begin, and when is it too late? Maximizing sales during such a short window is an art. Crafted marketing must be timely, so that sales on Cinco de Mayo are strong. On the fifth of May, restaurants offer specials (like this), liquor stores markdown Mexican tequilas and beer, and bars offer discounted cocktails.

Tonight, on-premise locations will optimize tequila displays, and off-premise menus will incorporate Mexican beer features. Cinco de Mayo has become a more important holiday north of the border than it is to the south, and many Americans will celebrate it this evening and into this weekend.

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