Famed cocktail historian David Wondrich states that “Cocktail history is full of holes because it is told by drunk people”. I f*#kin love that…and mostly because this statement has never rung truer as it does with the Margarita. Like every classic of its time, the origins of the drink are shrouded in controversy and mystery. In this case there are no less than 4 different Margaritas laying claim to the drink’s namesake with at least as many bars its creation! What we do know for sure is that Margaritas are about as Mexican as burritos and nachos (yeah, sorry, not Mexican) neither of which are consumed by locals.
It does seem as though the true controversy lies only in the name. Drinks containing tequila, triple sec and lime juice are documented as early as 1930 – My personal favorite is called “Young Mans Delight” from G.F Steel’s “My New Cocktail Book” (the man sure had a talent for naming). Truth is, the Margarita is really just a Tequila sour or Tequila Sidecar…but the question remains…who named it first!? It turns out there are two origin stories fighting for first prize. I’ll give you both briefly and let you decide who the winner is.
The first story, is of 1940s Dallas socialite Margaret “Margarita” Sames. Known for her lavish parties, she claims to have created the drink at her 1948 Acapulco Christmas palooza. To welcome her guests, she mixed her two favorite spirits, (tequila and Cointreau) and garnished with lime – She even lays claim to covering the rim of her sombrero-shaped glass with salt. Like any social worth her salt (no pun intended), she simply named the drink after herself. Truth be told…and really…there probably is no truth in any of this, but there are printed records of Jose Quervo advertising the Margarita before 1948…as well as the fact that the margarita glass was created after the margarita so…really, it just seems like someone had one too many margaritas.
The second story goes to Carlos “Danny” Herrera, owner of Rancho La Gloria in Tijuana. His obituary credits him with inventing the cocktail for famed showgirl Marjorie King who drank no spirit other than tequila…but refused to take it as a shot (boy does she sound like fun). In the ultimate act of chivalry, Danny, therefore, worked all the ingredients of a tequila shot into his drink, added some triple sec and named it The Margarita (Spanish for Marjorie). A far more likely story…but really, he just gave her a giant tequila shot ad set her on her way!
Whatever the origin, we’re just glad someone invented it! The perfect balance of tart and sweet has made this a classic that never goes out of style. So, with international Margarita day coming up on the 22nd of February, I thought I would help you celebrate in style with the Grand Margarita.
Start off by filling your shaker with ice and a shallow plate with salt. Slice up some limes for squeezing, being sure to cut out a wheel or two for garnishing later.
The proportions of the drink are 1 and 1/2 parts Tequila to 1/2 parts Grand Marnier measured out and poured into your shaker. Now comes the tart and sweet, with 3/4 parts of freshly squeezed lime juice (keep the lime shells, you’ll need them later) to 1/2 a part simple syrup. No, you can’t use lime cordial, no you cant used bottled lime juice and NO, you definitely can’t use a margarita mix. Shake all ingredients until your shaker is too cold to hold (it’s generally a good test).
Rub your squeezed out lime shell around the rim of your glass to wet it, then dip the edge of the glass into your salt plate. Turn and repeat till the rim is covered in salt – you can, and should, do this before you start if you have a couple of drinks to make. Now, simply strain your shaker into the glass and garnish with your lime wheel! Sombreros are of course optional!
Okay. Drink responsibly and stay fancy.