Margarita is one of the most famous cocktail drinks around the world. It consists of lime juice, orange liqueur, tequila, and some salt around the rim of the serving glass and is served after blending with ice or without it.
This famous drink has a long history with several origin stories as well. Some believe that the drink was first made by a Mexican restaurant owner named Carlos Herrera for a special guest (Ziegfeld showgirl Marjorie King) who would only have tequila, so Herrera added salt and lime juice to it.
While others believe that the drink was first made by the Texas lady Margaret Sames also known as Margarita. It is believed that she mixed the drink during a house party in 1948. According to another claim, the drink is named after actress Rita Hayworth during the 1940s, whose actual name was Margarita Casino,
With so many origin stories, it is hard to find out which one is the actual one. However, here is the brief history of the Margarita along with the most popular origin stories.
The Origin of the Margarita
While there are several origin stories for margaritas, the cocktail historian David Wondrich says that the Margarita is a newer version of the old Mexican drink called Daisy. In Spanish, the word “Margarita” is used for “Daisy.” In the older times, Daisy (now called Margarita) was made with brandy instead of tequila.
The drink got famous in Mexico during the prohibition when Americans traveled to Mexico searching for alcohol. James Graham, a newspaper editor, is said to have found Margarita for the first time in 1936 while he was in Tijuana, Mexico.
However, some others believe that the first Margarita was either made in 1937 or 1938. The 1937 origin story says that the first Margarita was made for a Picador. On the other hand, as we mentioned earlier, some people believe that in 1938, the owner of a Mexican restaurant named Herrera mixed tequila with lime juice and salt for the Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King who could only have tequila because of some allergies. However, this claim was debunked by San Diego Reader in 1992.
There is another claim about the origin of Margarita that says that the first Margarita was made in Hussong’s Cantina, Baja California, in 1941. According to the claim, a bartender named Don Carlos Orozco was the one who named the drink after a frequent customer whose name was Margarita Henkel Cesena. It is believed that Cesena was the daughter of the German ambassador.
Another claim states that it was Francisco Pancho Morales from Juarez Chihuahua who mixed the first Margarita. According to the claim, Morales left Mexico to become a US citizen and worked for 25 years as a milkman. According to several historical experts and the official news agency of Mexico, Morales could really be the inventor of Margarita as he had the strongest claim for doing so.
The origin stories don’t end here, and another claim says that the inventor of Margarita was Margarita Sames, who mixed it for her house party guests in 1948. However, this claim is weak as Jose Cuervo had already been running an ad campaign for margaritas in 1945. The slogan of this ad campaign was “Margarita: It’s more than a girl’s name.”
Another story claims that it could’ve been the drink that a Texas bartender made for the singer Peggy Margaret Lee in 1948. The bartender supposedly named the drink after the Spanish version of Peggy’s name, Margarita.
Publication of the First Margarita Recipe
The first historically recorded publication of the margarita recipe dates back to 1953. The recipe was published in the 1953 issue of Esquire. However, another tequila-based cocktail recipe was published in a 1930 book named My New Cocktail Book.
In 1936, Syracuse Herald also published a recipe named Tequila Daisy, which could’ve been a margarita recipe because the Spanish name for Daisy is Margarita.
Variations of the Margarita
Margarita has several variations; however, there are two main classic margaritas. The first one is from the early 20th century, which includes tequila, lime juice, sugar, and triple sec. While the other classic dates back to 1971, which is a modified version of the first classic. This classic Margarita was in the form of slushy, and the one who modified the recipe was Mariano Martinez, a Dallas restaurateur. These two main classic margaritas are the ones that make up all the other versions of this drink.
Some variations of Margarita include:
- Flavored Tequila.
- Flavored liqueurs.
- Fresh lime juice margarita.
- Frozen Margarita.
- Fruity soda margarita.
- Fruits and vegetable margarita.
- Skinny Margarita.
- Beer cocktails.
While the margaritas have different variations, these variations also come in different types according to the region they are served in. some of these sub-variations of Margarita include:
- Classic shaken Margarita – Mexican origin
- Frozen Margarita – California-Mexico border origin
- Margarita Al Jazeera – Yudale, Jerusalem origin
- Frozen limeade margarita – La Jolla Cove origin
- Mezcalita de Pina – Mexican origin
- Garden variety margarita – Mexican origin
- Mango-ginger margarita – Le Mexique, Mexico origin
- The borderline escape – California-Mexico border origin
- Sangria Margarita – Seattle, USA origin
- Blueberry and basil margarita – Mexican origin
- Moradita – Mexican origin
- Li Hing Mui Margarita – Chinese origin
- Ginger margarita squares – Mexican origin
- Skinny Margarita (a sugar-free version of classic Margarita)
Today, margaritas are served in several types of glasses; however, the eponymous margarita glass is said to be the one specifically used for serving margaritas.
Margaritas are often served in a classic champagne coupe and are particularly used for blended fruit margaritas; however, it is also used for shrimp cocktails and guacamole. Formally, margaritas are served in cocktail glasses, while the classic old-fashioned glasses are used on informal occasions.
Why Are Margaritas So Famous?
Margaritas are mostly popular for their tangy taste that comes from fresh lime juice and salt around the rim of the glass. Although margaritas are popular around the world, they are more common in places like Cinco de Mayo and other summer destinations.
Margarita may work as a staple go-to cocktail drink in several countries, but it is still not popular or common in almost all Eastern Muslim countries. This is probably because of the religious beliefs of avoiding alcohol-based drinks.
The origin stories of the margarita are so many that sometimes it feels more like folklore; however, the thing that is 100% true about its origin is that it’s Mexico from where margaritas originated. Margaritas have been around for several years, and in some areas, non-alcoholic margaritas are also popular. We may not know the real origin story of margaritas, but we do know the long history of this drink.