Entertainment | Restaurants & Dining | July 2007
|Margarita's History A Mystery|
Lisa Morrison - Internet Broadcasting
go to original
A little salt around the rim, a touch of citrus and sweetness, and a big tequila bite - how can something so simple taste so good?
Margaritas are a summertime staple, evoking festive visions of Mexico in every sip. But the history behind this warm-weather favorite is just as evocative - and shrouded in mystery.
The origin of the cocktail is actually unknown. Although there are several versions, no one has been able to pinpoint which one is true. But they all make for good conversation over a round or two of the frosty concoctions.
My favorite story is about a Dallas socialite, named - you guessed it - Margarita Sames, whose favorite party game was to duck behind the bar and mix up all kinds of drinks for her guests with whatever was available. During a 1948 Christmas party at her vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico - must be nice - she threw together tequila, Cointreau and lime juice with great success. Her friends took the recipe stateside, and it spread like melted cheese sauce over nachos.
Perhaps the most prevalent story behind the invention of the margarita involves a showgirl named Marjorie King, who was allergic to all alcohol except tequila - poor dear. In 1938, King was visiting the Rancho Del Gloria Bar in Rosarita Beach, Mexico, when she asked one of the bartenders to mix her a cocktail with tequila. The bartender, a chap by the name of Danny Herrera, poured tequila over shaved ice then added lemon and triple sec. He translated Majorie's name to its Spanish equivalent, Margarita.
The third most commonly told tale comes from Tommy's Place in Juarez, Mexico. Pancho Morales was working the bar in 1942 when a woman came up to him and ordered a drink called a Magnolia. Morales could not remember what was in a Magnolia, except Cointreau. So, he decided to fake it. After mixing Cointreau with tequila, he named the new concoction after another flower, the daisy. Bet you a margarita that you can guess what "daisy" is in Spanish.
There are other bars that claim to be the origin of the margarita, with other tales to tell. Whatever the real story, it's hard to beat a margarita in front of you on a warm, summery day.
And, like its history, the cocktail itself has a number of versions. Go to any Mexican restaurant worth the salt on the rim of your glass and you will probably be inundated with decisions when you order a margarita: Regular, "Cadillac" - made with premium tequilas - or strawberry? How about mango? On the rocks or blended? Salt or no salt? It's enough to make your head spin - and you haven't even gotten your drink yet.
I tend to go for a basic margarita. I save the "good stuff" - top-shelf tequilas - for sipping (without lime and salt if it's really good).
Here's a basic recipe for a plain ol' margarita that you can enjoy as-is - or tailor to your heart's content (like that Dallas socialite Margarita Sames):
2 oz. tequila
2 oz. lime juice
1 oz. Triple Sec, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
Garnish: lime wedge
Rub the rim of a margarita glass with lime and dip it into salt. Shake tequila, lime juice and Triple Sec (or other liqueur) in a shaker with ice and strain into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. Olé!
Lisa Morrison's Liquid Solutions column is a winner of the Beer Journalism Awards.