Summer is almost here, and it’s time to unwind with the most popular tequila drink in America. Of course, I’m talking about the Margarita. Today, there are almost as many varieties of Margaritas as there are grains of sand on the beach, but for now we’ll simply examine the original Margarita on the Rocks recipe. All derivative margarita recipes come from this one, so this is a good cocktail recipe to understand. After the recipe, we’ll delve into the heated discussion about who exactly first created the Margarita, and when.
Margarita on the Rocks
- 2 oz 100% agave silver tequila
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- ½ oz Cointreau
- ½ oz agave nectar
- Margarita salt
- Lime wedges
Rim a highball or Collins glass with salt by running a lime wedge around the rim and dipping the glass in salt. Set the glass to the side. In a cocktail shaker with ice, add the tequila, Cointreau, fresh squeezed lime juice, and agave nectar. Shake Margarita mixture until super cold. Strain mixture out over fresh ice into your tall glass, being careful not to disturb the salted rim. Add some lime wedges for garnish. Serve and enjoy!
It takes about to set up your prep for this basic version of the Margarita, and your total time to prepare this drink will be about . With the perfect balance of tequila, lime, top shelf triple sec, and salt, the Margarita has become one of the most popular drinks in the world. Today, there are a thousand variations on the original Margarita on the Rocks, but this tequila based cocktail remains a ubiquitous cocktail classic.
Who Really Invented the Margarita?
Asking someone to pinpoint the actual time and place that the Margarita was first created is a controversial subject. Although many people recognize 1948 as the year the year the Margarita was first introduced, there are other claims that predate that time that also bear investigating. Let’s examine each of the legends behind the creation of the Margarita in chronological order.
Many people believe that the Margarita was born on Jalisco, Mexico, where blue agave tequila has been produced for centuries. This proto-Margarita was a version of the Daisy cocktail, substituting tequila for brandy. Daisy in Spanish translates to “Margarita“.
An early legend says that a Mexico City bartender named Willie first created the Margarita in 1934 at the Matamoros area restaurant Los Dos Republicas for a patron named Marguerite Hemery. Another story says that in 1936, bar owner Daniel Negrete presented the drink as a wedding day gift for his son to be sister-in-law, Margarita. According to Daniel’s son, Salvatore, this version of the Margarita was equal parts lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur, served over crushed ice.
One of the most credible stories says that bartender Danny Herrera of the Rancho Del Gloria Bar in Rosarita Beach, Mexico invented the Margarita in 1938 for American showgirl Marjorie King. Marjorie was allergic to all alcohol except for tequila, but hated drinking it straight. Herrera mixed tequila, crushed ice, a bit of lime juice and triple sec to create a drink for Marjorie in an attempt to win her affection. He named the drink Margarita, after the Spanish version of Marjorie.
Another 1938 creation story spun by the Jose Cuervo company says that showgirl Rita De La Rosa moon lighted as a bartender and created the drink on the fly.
The next story states that in 1941 at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, bartender Don Carlos Orozco concocted a mixture of tequila, Damiana, and lime served in a salt rimmed glass, and first served it to Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German ambassador. Henkel lived with her husband near the cantina in Rancho Hamilton. This Margarita creation story has a lot of credibility, and many people accept it as true.
Another early 1940s legend has bartender Enrique Bastate Gutierrez creating the drink for actress Rita Hayworth (real name Margarita Cansino). Hayworth spent part of her early career in the 1930s as a dancer in Tijuana’s Foreign Club. One more 1942 legend spots Francisco Morales accidentally creating the Margarita on July 4th at Tommy’s Place in Ciudad Juárez when he cannot remember how to make another drink that a patron ordered. A 1948 flyer for the Balinese Room in Galveston, TX proclaimed that head bartender Santos Cruz created the drink for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee.
The last creation story is the one that many people have probably heard. In December 1948, Dallas socialite Margaret Sames created the Margarita at her vacation home in Acapulco. Yearning for a new drink, and bored with rum , she experimented with the Whiskey Daisy, substituting tequila, and using Cointreau and lime. Sames’ proportions of tequila, Cointreau, and lime were 2:1:1, with a rim of coarse salt for variety. The drink was originally known either “The Drink” or “Margarita’s Drink”. In 1953, Esquire magazine first published a Margarita recipe using that name, establishing Maragret’s modern day claim to creating the Margarita, although many cocktail historians believe that Danny Herrera or Don Carlos Orozco probably created the first classic Margarita on the Rocks.
It wasn’t until 1971 that Margaritas became slushy and blended. Dallas-based restaurant owner Mariano Martinez bought a soft serve ice cream machine and converted it into the world’s first margarita machine in that year, establishing a new standard for serving Margaritas to the masses.
National Margarita Day is February 22nd each year here in the United States.