There’s no doubt that the margarita is one of the tastiest alcoholic beverages. Made with lime, Cointreau, and tequila, a margarita is the perfect drink to sip on a hot summer day or enjoy while you’re sitting on the porch.
While most of us are familiar with drinking margaritas, very few people know the history behind the margarita. Who invented the margarita? How did the drink become so popular?
Read on to learn all about the invention of the margarita.
What is a Margarita?
As we mentioned, a margarita is made with tequila, lime, and Cointreau. Making the perfect margarita involves using precise amounts of each one of these ingredients.
The classic margarita typically contains:
- 1.5 ounces of tequila (Silver tequila is best)
- 1 ounce of orange liqueur (most people use Cointreau, but you can also use Triple Sec or Grand Marnier)
- ¾ ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice (while you can use bottled lime juice, freshly squeezed is always better)
Most people like to start making their margaritas by salting the rim. A salted rim helps balance out the sweetness of the margarita. To salt the rim, run a lime wedge along the edge of your glass. Then, pour some salt onto a plate, and dip the rim of the glass in the salt.
Next, add your tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur to a cocktail shaker. Shake until all of the ingredients are combined. If you prefer your margarita a little on the sweeter side, you can in half a teaspoon of agave or simple syrup.
Fill your drinking glass with ice, and then pour in the margarita ingredients. If desired, garnish your drink with a lime wedge.
Related: Margarita Popsicles
The Mystery Behind the Margarita
The origin of the margarita is a bit of a mystery, as historians don’t know exactly who invented it. Despite the lack of certainty, there are many stories surrounding the origin of the margarita. These include:
Cocktail historian David Wondrich believes that the margarita is a spin-off of a classic Mexican drink called the daisy. In Spanish, the word margarita translates to “daisy.”
Daisies refer to a family of cocktails that include citrus, liqueur, and a base spirit. Daisies became popular during the prohibition era as US citizens traveled to Mexico for alcohol.
Allegedly, the newspaper editor James Graham made mention of such a cocktail existing in Tijuana, long before other margarita “creation stories” began to pop up.
Carlos “Danny” Herrera
One of the most popular stories surrounding the invention of the margarita involves a man named Carlos “Danny” Herrera.
Herrera owned a restaurant named Rancho La Gloria located between Rosarito and Tijuana. The story goes that Herrera created the cocktail for Marjorie King, a longtime customer and Ziegfield dancer. Apparently, King was allergic to all spirits except tequila.
Herrera related this story to others, and it was backed by the bartender Albert Hernandez. Hernandez was given credit for popularizing the margarita in the US at the La Plaza restaurant in La Jolla, California.
Tommy’s Place Bar
Another story involving the origin of the margarita involves Tommy’s Place Bar in Juarez, Mexico. According to this story, the bartender Francisco “Pancho” Morales was the first person to make the margarita in 1942.
After leaving bartending in Mexico to become a US citizen, Morales worked as a milkman for 25 years. According to Mexico’s official news agency Notimex and several other sources, Morales has the strongest claim to being the inventor of the margarita.
While most stories surrounding the invention of the margarita involve men, there is one story that gives claim to a woman inventor named Margarita Sames. Sames was a Dallas socialite, and as the story goes, she invented the margarita for her guests at her vacation home in Acapulco in 1948.
She had some high-profile party guests, one of whom was Tommy Hilton. Allegedly, Hilton brought the drink back to his chain of hotels. However, this story doesn’t hold a lot of weight, as the tequila brand Jose Cuervo was already running margarita ads three years prior.
Their slogan at the time was “Margarita: It’s More Than a Girl’s Name.” According to Jose Cuervo, a bartender invented the margarita in 1938 in honor of the famed Mexican showgirl Rita de la Rosa.
The Balinese Room
Another margarita origin story involves the legendary Balinese Room located in Galveston, Texas. In 1948, the bartender Santo Cruz supposedly created the drink for the singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee. Apparently, he named the drink after the Spanish version Margaret, which is “Margarita.”
Are you looking for a simple way to enjoy margaritas? Try our canned cocktails!
The Margarita Recipe in Print
While we can’t be too sure about who invented the margarita, we do have stronger evidence regarding the first printing of the recipe.
In 1937, the cocktail recipe book Cafe Royal Cocktail Book contains a recipe for a drink called the Picador, which uses the same ingredients as ratios as the traditional margarita.
The first known publication of a drink named the margarita dates back to December of 1953. Esquire magazine printed a margarita recipe that’s very close to today’s traditional margarita, except it included one part lime and one part lemon.
There’s also a printed recipe for a tequila-based cocktail that closely resembles the margarita that dates all the way back to 1930. Written by G.F. Steele, the book is called My New Cocktail.
There is also mention of a drink called the “Tequila Daisy” in the Syracuse Herald that dates back all the way to 1936. However, the article doesn’t mention a recipe or an inventor.
Related: Rancho Gloria: Our Story
The Invention of the Margarita: The Mystery Remains
While we may never know who the true inventor of the margarita was, it’s fun to ponder these stories and take a guess. Next time you’re sipping a margarita with friends, you can share these origin stories and see what everyone else thinks.
Are you in the mood for a margarita but don’t want to make one? Check out our bottled margarita cocktails.