Celebrate National Margarita Day!
There is no solid proof who invented the Margarita.
One of the earliest stories is of the Margarita being invented in 1938 at the Rancho La Gloria Hotel, halfway between Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico, by Carlos “Danny” Herrera, for a former Ziegfeld dancer named Marjorie King. This story was related by Herrera and also by bartender Albert Hernandez, who is acknowledged for popularizing a Margarita in San Diego after 1947, at the La Plaza restaurant in La Jolla. Hernandez claimed the owner of La Plaza, Morris Locke, knew Herrera and visited Mexico often.
Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico is also reputedly the place where the Margarita was created in October, 1941 by bartender Don Carlos Orozco. He concocted a mixture of equal parts tequila, Damiana (Cointreau is used now) and lime, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass for Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico.
There are also claims that the popular drink to have been first mixed in the El Paso–Juárez area at Tommy’s Place Bar on July 4, 1942 by Francisco “Pancho” Morales. Morales originally left bartending in Mexico to become a US citizen. He is listed in the Texas Almanac’s Sesquicentennial Edition (1857–2007, under M) Obituaries of famous Texans. His story is best captured in an October 1973 Texas Monthly article “The Man Who Invented the Margarita” by Brad Cooper, and later in his obituary in the Washington Post on January 2, 1997.
Another story is that of Vern Under in 1945, a man who was the first importer of Jose Cuervo to the United States with the advertisement: “Margarita: It’s More Than a Girl’s Name”.
At a 1948 Christmas party in Acapulco, Mexico, “one of the most widely accepted accounts” is the story that the Dallas socialite Margarita Sames invented the drink. Tommy Hilton reportedly attended, bringing the drink back to the Hilton chain of hotels.
Another common origin tale begins the cocktail’s history at the legendary Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas where, in 1948, head bartender Santos Cruz created the Margarita for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee. He supposedly named it after the Spanish version of her name, Margarita, and it’s been a hit ever since.
A later story is that the Margarita was invented in October 1961, at a party in Houston, TX, by party goer Robert James “Rusty” Thomson while acting as bartender. He concocted a mixture of equal parts tequila, orange liqueur, lime, and crushed ice in a salt-rimmed glass. However, Thomson’s recipe was made with Damiana Liqueur, not Cointreau orange liqueur. It is said that the idea was an experiment after running out of rum while making frozen daiquiris.
Another explanation, however, is that the Margarita is merely a popular American drink, the Daisy, remade with tequila instead of brandy, which became popular during Prohibition as people drifted over the border for alcohol. There is an account from 1936 of Iowa newspaper editor James Graham finding such a cocktail in Tijuana, years before any of the other Margarita “creation myths”. Margarita is Spanish for Daisy, which is a nickname for Margaret.
Tequila Aficionado’s favorite?
The Skinny Margarita
“The Skinni Margarita is a better choice than a traditional margarita because of its fresh ingredients,” says Cathy Shyne, executive chef at Tortilla Republic. “By mixing and squeezing a whole lime and fresh agave nectar with Corzo Blanco tequila and Cointreau, you get a fresh taste thats makes you feel like you are sipping a true margarita from Mexico, not a prepackaged artificial beverage.”