By Sibel Tinar, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – If last week’s Cinco de Mayo party at Blue Agave was any indication, the celebrations that characterize this regional Mexican holiday have spread to fun-loving Rio de Janeiro. Despite being a holiday only formally observed in the Mexican state of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is mainly known for the colorful events that are held in many parts of the United States.
Brazil had no role in the Battle of Puebla victory that turned the day into a holiday, nor is it home to a large Mexican population, but the sight of Rua Vinícius de Moraes on May 5th would have anyone thinking otherwise.
Gringos and Cariocas were washing down Mexican cuisine with tequila drinks, filling up the small restaurant, as well as the sidewalk in front with lively chatter. It was reminiscent of a scene from Los Angeles or New York.
This was the first Mexican celebration of Blue Agave, the popular Mexican place that opened last year in Ipanema by American chefs Richard Nelson and Jason Galeria, and it won’t be the last. “Jason and I were really pleased with the turnout and the clientele”, co-owner Nelson tells us. “We started the festivities early hoping to end on the early side, being a weeknight. But as usual, people were having too much fun, and wanted to stay late into the night.”
Pumping up the crowd throughout the night with an eclectic mix of rock and Latin tunes was DJ Karl Rodgers, who previously has done a bloco at Blue Agave during the carnival.
“It is not normally the sort of stuff I get to DJ out so it was a bit of an opportunity to dust off some other favorites like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Talking Heads, The Strokes and Rolling Stones – some old, some new, but good rousing tunes”, says Rodgers, who spins funk, rare groove, and disco tunes once a month at Botafogo Social Club.
Blue Agave offered a R$5 Cinco de Mayo menu with popular Mexican snacks, and margaritas prepared with the restaurant’s signature sour mix. “We went through 12 Bottles of tequila that night”, says Richard Nelson. “I actually saw one group’s check with 45 Margaritas. They were having fun!”
The Cinco de Mayo menu was such a big hit that the restaurant has decided to start a R$5 Happy Hour menu during the week, featuring nachos, tacos, quesadillas, and of course, their signature margaritas. The grande result is Blue Agave’s commitment to making Cinco de Mayo an annual party, with plans to turn it into a holiday on par with St. Patrick’s day in Rio.