February 22 is National Margarita Day. If you haven’t already, raise a glass in cheer!
Like many classic cocktails, the origin of the Margarita is mired in legend.
One of the earliest tales of its invention is that in 1938, Carlos “Danny” Herrera created the drink at his restaurant, Rancho La Gloria, for aspiring actress and former Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King who was allergic to other spirits but not tequila. Herrera combined the elements of a traditional tequila shot—a lick of salt and a wedge of lime—and turned them into the refreshing drink.
Another story describes the Margarita being invented in late 1941, at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, by bartender Don Carlos Orozco. One afternoon, Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the then German ambassador visited the establishment and Orozco offered her an experimental cocktail consisting of equal parts tequila, Mexican orange liqueur, and lime, shaken and served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. She liked it so much, he decided to name it after her.
There are also claims that the inventor was Dallas socialite Margarita Sames, who made the drink for her guests at her vacation home in Acapulco in 1948. Tommy Hilton reportedly enjoyed it so much he brought the cocktail back and added it to the bar menu at his hotel chain.
Tequila giant Jose Cuervo ran an ad campaign in 1945 with the slogan “Margarita: It’s more than a girl’s name.” According to the Cuervo company, it was invented in 1938 by a bartender in honor of Mexican showgirl Rita de la Rosa.
Whatever its actual inception, the Margarita has been hailed for decades as the perfect alcoholic combination of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter and is the most popular tequila-based cocktail in the United States.
The simplest way to make one is to remember the “3-2-1 Rule”: three parts tequila, two parts of quality Triple Sec (an orange liqueur like Cointreau) and one-part lime juice. Shake with ice and serve.
To enhance your experience, try Solerno, a Sicilian blood orange liqueur, as your Triple Sec component or try Grand Marnier for a smoother drink with the refined flavors of its cognac base.
Margaritas can be served on the rocks, frozen, and with or without a salted rim. The important part is to enjoy them and have fun.