Margarita – The History of America’s Favorite Cocktail
It’s America’s favorite cocktail. But it was born South of the Border.
The margarita is undoubtedly one of Mexico’s most appreciated exports! No other drink conjures up such vivid images of sunny tropical beaches, playful marimba and mariachi music, tiki hut bars and that welcoming brain freeze! The drink has even been immortalized in Jimmy Buffett’s most famous song, “Margaritaville,” and will forever be associated with the phrase “that frozen concoction” and the repeated chant, “salt, salt, salt!”
While there are many variations of regular and frozen margarita recipe, the classic is still most margarita lovers’ favorite: tequila, fresh lime juice (preferably from Key limes), triple sec (or the higher-priced Cointreau), and ice…. all served up in a glass whose rim is coated with salt (“salt, salt, salt”).
So what are the actual origins of the now beloved frozen margarita recipe? Something as popular and near perfect as that frozen concoction that helps us hang on is bound to attract lots of people claiming credit for its birth.
One very popular tale is that the original margarita was invented back in the late 1930s in Tijuana, at the restaurant of Carlos “Danny” Herrera known as Rancho La Gloria. As is often the case with new cocktails, the original intent was to mask the harsh taste and burn of the liquor involved, in this case, tequila. Since tequila has long been enjoyed with lime and salt, all it took was a complimentary sweet ingredient, and the margarita was born. It wouldn’t be long before it was all thrown into a blender and the first glorious, slushy, frozen margarita recipe was adapted.
But Herrera doesn’t get bragging rights so quickly. Others believe that the margarita was created by a Dallas, Texas, socialite named Margarita Sames. Ms. Sames was said to have mixed her namesake cocktail for some friends, while vacationing in Acapulco, in the late 1940s. While her claim is considerably later than Herrera’s, it is nonetheless accepted by many – possibly because one of her guests, hotelier Tommy Hilton, stared offering the drink at his chain of hotels, which undoubtedly added to its popularity.
Not so fast, Ms. Sames. Ever heard of (or drank) Jose Cuervo tequila? Of course you have – if you’ve ordered a margarita at most bars in America (and eastern Mexico). The spirit’s first U.S. importer, Anthony Dias Blue, is credited with writing the advertising slogan, “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name,” back in the mid-1940s…several years before the Sames vacation party.
But the frozen margarita recipe would not come into its fully glory until 1971 (six short years before the release of “Margaritaville” – coincidence?), when the world’s first frozen margarita machine was invented by Mariano Martinez, a Dallas restaurateur.
In the end, does it really matter? As long as you have a blender or a margarita machine, a great frozen margarita recipe, and the right frame of mind, the home of the margarita is wherever you’re enjoying one!
Salt, salt, salt!