Everybody loves Cinco de Mayo. So, plan a fiesta no one can resist! That means going beyond basic tacos and margaritas with these 15 creative, easy-to-launch bar and restaurant Cinco de Mayo promotions. Plus, see how to plan the perfect 5th of May party in 5 fast steps.
Cinco de Mayo Promotions: Boost Business with a 5-Step Fiesta Guide
Step 1: Get the Facts
First, know the basic history of Cinco de Mayo. Too many businesses build Cinco de Mayo promotions and events around “Mexican Independence Day.” Oops. That’s September 16th. Instead, Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico defeating France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862.
Step 2: Name your Event
The second step is to brainstorm a unique event name. Every place in town runs Cinco de Mayo promotions, how can you stand out?
- Off to the Races: In 2018, the Kentucky Derby falls on Cinco de Mayo. Why not kick off a Derby de Mayo or Cinco de Derby event?
- Use Your Name! Example: Rick’s Sports Bar could host Rick’s de Mayo, or Cinco de Rick’s.
- Day After de Mayo Brunch: Don’t limit your Cinco de Mayo promotions and events to one day. Cure hangovers with an indulgent, day-after brunch. Serve spicy “Bloody Marias,” of course.
- Cuatro de Mayo Eve: Start the festivities the night before…
Step 3: Select 3 Cinco de Mayo Promotions
The third step is the easiest! Pick 3 Cinco de Mayo promotions to run during your event from our list of 15 ideas.
Step 4: Set up a Facebook Event
After you’ve named your event and planned Cinco de Mayo promotions, the fourth step is to start marketing…ASAP. Set up a Facebook event. For free, Facebook will promote your event to friends of those who RSVP. So, you need RSVPs right away! Offer the first 10 RSVPs a chance to swing at your piñata (see promo idea #13).
Step 5: Drinks Responsibly, Amigos
Last but not least, help guests stay safe as they enjoy your Cinco de Mayo promotions. According to a recent Nielsen study, patrons drink more beer on the 5th of May than on St. Patrick’s Day. Consider offering $5 Lyft or Uber codes to guests. Or, treat designated drivers to a complimentary “mocktail mojito.”
15 Best Cinco de Mayo Promotions
Derby de Mayo
1) Sombrero Contest
Sombrero simply means “hat” in Spanish. What a coincidence. Fancy hats are a Derby tradition. Tell guests to throw on their wildest hat and compete to win a gift card. Play traditional mariachi music and ask contestants to do a fashion walk. Let crowd applause crown the winner.
2) Mexican-Southern Food Fusion
Whip up a fusion menu as one of your Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo promotions:
- Mexican Shrimp and Grits: Toss shrimp in a lime-cilantro tequila sauce and add corn to the grits…easy!
- Bourbon Mojitos or Rum Juleps: Mojitos call for rum, juleps use bourbon. Just rename one for an simple fusion cocktail.
- Fried Chicken Tacos: Swap out ground beef for fried chicken. Top with sweet pickles and a spicy slaw.
- Hush Cachorros (Spanish for “puppies”): Add Mexican spices like cumin and cayenne pepper to Southern hush puppies. Serve with spiced “mayo” dipping sauces.
Más Entertaining! Super Fun Cinco de Mayo Promotions
3) Salsa Lessons: 2 Ways
First, ask your chef to do a cooking demo for guests: how to whip up 3 kinds of salsa. Send guests home with the recipes. Later on, bring in a salsa dancing instructor to show the crowd some moves.
4) Margarita Mix Off
Put on a show with your Cinco de Mayo promotions. Ask your bartenders to prepare their own signature margarita. Guests can purchase a flight and taste each one (serve smaller pours, of course). The winning margarita stays on the menu in May.
5) Tequila+Taco Crawl
Get collaborative with community-wide Cinco de Mayo promotions. Team up with other bars and restaurants to host a tequila+taco “crawl.” At each participating venue, revelers get a different tequila-infused shot paired with a taco.
Take these tequila+taco crawl Cinco de Mayo promotions a step further. Invite everyone to end up at your place for a live trivia tournament. No need to spend mucho dinero on a trivia host. Buzztime live trivia includes everything you need – from trivia questions to handheld tablets for automatic scoring.
Menu-Focused Cinco de Mayo Promotions: Mezcal, Street Food, and More
6) Mexican Street Food Appetizers
Use menu-based Cinco de Mayo promotions to tap into the latest trends. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2018 What’s Hot Chef Survey, “street food-inspired dishes” are #3 on the list of top 20 overall trends.
Mexican street food pairs perfectly with other Cinco de Mayo promotions. Since it’s meant to be eaten on the move, guests can mix and mingle instead of staying stuck at the table. Use these ideas for inspiration:
- Elote – corn on the cob slathered in butter, cheese, chili powder, and lime juice…yum!
- Empanadas – pastry dough stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables and baked into crescent shapes
- Tortas – Mexican sandwiches
- Tacos – especially fish tacos, are traditional street food in Mexico
7) Cinco for Cinco Happy Hour
Create a mix n’ match menu for your Cinco de Mayo promotions. Let guests choose from five different $5 appetizers and five $5 cocktails.
8) Mezcal Tasting Flight
Tequila will never go out of style, but mezcal is having a moment. Like tequila, mezcal is made in Mexico from agave plants. A unique processing method lends a smoky flavor note to mezcal that is winning over Americans, one shot at a time. In fact, mezcal demand in America is expected to grow by 17.8% through 2022.
Get in on the mezcal trend by offering guests a sampling flight as one of your trendiest Cinco de Mayo promotions.
9) Go Grande
Appeal to big groups looking for a place to celebrate together with party-size Cinco de Mayo promotions. Don’t forget pitchers of Corona and margaritas!
- “La Familia Package”: Build a menu meant for family-style sharing and offer it for a set price. Include big bowls of salsa and guacamole. Go authentic with mole poblano, a signature of Puebla, Mexico. This rich, savory sauce made with chilis, spices, and chocolate can top a tray of enchiladas, chicken wings, pork…anything.
- Tableside Taco Bar: Place taco fixings on a rolling cart and bring it out to the group.
10) Top Shelf Treatment
Your Cinco de Mayo promotions could earn valuable publicity for your business. Case in point: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Tampa is offering a $100 Prime Margarita. Made with premium tequila, it’s served in a Baccarat glass guests can take home.
Check with your liquor distributor: would any high-end tequila or mezcal brands want to partner up on premium Cinco de Mayo promotions?
Don’t forget beer brands like Dos Equis and Corona. They often provide promotional items to distributors like keychains, t-shirts, and pint glasses. Ask if any are available. Then create Cinco de Mayo promotions like a Corona “Extra” that costs a few bucks more but includes the giveaway item.
Cinco de Mayo Promotions, Games, and Contests
11) Balero Bucks Off
A balero is a wooden cup with a ball or peg attached by a string. The goal is to toss the ball and catch it in the cup. Order $6 baleros on Amazon – and give them to your bartenders. Guests can try and catch the ball to earn a buck off their drink.
Other traditional Mexican games you can use to create Cinco de Mayo promotions include:
- Loteria: The Mexican version of Bingo.
- Mexican Train Dominoes: Easy to learn, this domino game is played in groups of 4-10.
- La Pirinola: Similar to a dreidel, the pirinola is a wooden or plastic object with 6 sides that players spin like a top. You could instruct guests on how to play la pirinola. Or, assign discounts to each of the 6 sides and let guests spin win Cinco de Mayo promotions and drink specials.
12) Pick a Pepper: Guessing Game
Task your chef with creating an indulgent Cinco de Mayo nacho platter – and a trio of salsas. Each salsa should use a different hot pepper. Guests can earn a dollar off the nachos for each pepper they guess correctly. Common peppers for salsa include: poblano, jalapeno, serrano, and habanero.
13) The Big Piñata…
No list of Cinco de Mayo promotions is complete with a piñata. Purchase a large piñata and fill it up with candy. Let guests take one swing with a whiffle bat. Whoever busts the piñata earns a gift card (everyone else gets candy and maybe a coupon?). Rope or tape off the piñata area to keep crowds safe from wild swingers.
14) …Little Piñatas
The best Cinco de Mayo promotions can be the simplest. Hand out a door prize…a personal piñata. Fill pointed paper cups with candy. In a few, add a $10 gift card. Put colorful tissue paper over the top, and seal with a rubber band. Hand out to guests as they arrive.
Or, use your Cinco de Mayo promotions to bring guests back. Put a $5 off coupon (good for the following week only) in every personal piñata and hand out to customers as they leave.
15) Sombrero Toss
The classic bean bag toss game – known as cornhole – gets the Cinco de Mayo treatment. Instead of a board, guests aim for a flipped-over sombrero. Create a tournament: players pair up and compete to see who will advance to the finals.
In the bar and restaurant biz, Cinco de Mayo is the unofficial start to the summer season. So, kick things off right! Set a celebratory tone with a fantastic fiesta and these 15 fun Cinco de Mayo promotions.