The Many Stories of the Margarita

Updated: Jul 31

When you think of tequila, you think Margarita. The traditional Margarita is a mix of tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau or Triple Sec, served on the rocks with a salt rim. It's a staple on most cocktail menus and has countless variations. But, who first mixed up this amazing concoction?


Well, like a lot of good stories, this one has a few variations and a few people who claim the margarita fame.

The first story dates back to 1938, when Carlos "Danny" Herrera created a drink at his restaurant, Rancho La Gloria in Tijuana. The story goes that a customer, Marjorie King was allergic to all alcohol except tequila, but she didn't like to drink it straight. Herrera, inspired by the traditional tequila shot with lime and salt, created the Margarita for her. The next story is from 1948 when a Dallas socialite, Margarita Sames, is said to have created the drink for friends at her vacation home in Acapulco. One of her guests was Tommy Hilton (from the Hilton hotels), and it's said he liked the drink so much he added to his hotel menus. Perhaps there is some legitimacy to this story, since we still call it a Margarita and the Hilton hotel menus was definitely a good place to have a lot of people try it.


Not so fast though... according to a book by Anthony Dias Blue, who was the first import Jose Cuervo to the U.S., he advertised Cuervo with the tagline "Margarita: it's more than a girl's name", in 1945. So, this perhaps defuncts the story of Sames and the Hilton Hotels.


The theories don't stop there. In 1941, a bartender named Don Carlos Orozco made a cocktail for Margarita Henkel in Ensenada, Mexico. She was a big fan of his cocktail, and he named the drink after her at his bar.


And Danny Negrete, apparently also made a margarita cocktail as a wedding gift for his sister-in-law, Margarita. Fun fact, Danny Negrete also worked at the Agua Cliente Race Track where Rita Hayworth performed (but, did you know her real name was Margarita Casino)?

The last theory that we found didn't actually involve someone named Margarita (shocking, I know), but an even older cocktail called The Daisy, which dates back to the 1800s. The Daisy has the same ingredients as the Margarita, but uses brandy instead of tequila (and some recipes seem to use lemon instead of lime). Margarita is also the Spanish word for daisy. So maybe, the Margarita actually has nothing to do with a person, but is actually a remake of an old cocktail?

The only thing there seems to be little debate about is the origins of the Frozen Margarita. This was invented in 1971 by Mariano Martinez in Dallas. The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History acquired the first frozen margarita machine in 2005.


So, perhaps there is no clear inventor, but with a cocktail so iconic, how could there only be one claim to fame? What's clear is that it's delicious, and beloved, and even better with some tea!



Ready for a Margarita? Try our favorite Margarita recipes here.


Drink Wise,

The Owl's Brew Crew


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