As one of the world’s favorite cocktails, margaritas are famous for their signature sweet taste, tangy bite, and an authentic presentation in a salt-rimmed cocktail glass. While a margarita can be found at any local bar, the true origins of this cocktail are exactly unknown. The official National Margarita Day website provides no factual evidence as to where this beverage originated. Though it is more likely that the margarita’s controversial beginnings were a marketing tactic of the tequila industry, the stories that surround this beverage are exactly why Margaritas are so beloved in the world of cocktails and specialty beverages.
As early as 1938, one tale credits Mexican restaurant owner Danny Herrera in developing this unique cocktail for a showgirl by the name of Marjorie King. Supposedly, King was allergic to all forms of alcohol except tequila and did not like to drink hard spirits straight. Herrera solved this problem by adding salt and lime and creating the world’s first margarita.
Another story claims this beverage as the brainchild of Texas socialite Margaret (Margarita) Sames, who first mixed one at a house party in Acapulco in 1948. Similarly, it may have been named for actress Rita Hayworth, who was offered a margarita by a bartender during a theater gig in Tijuana in the 1940s.
According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, the margarita we know and love evolved from a cocktail known as the “daisy.” This mix of alcohol, citrus juice, and grenadine served over shaved ice was popular during the 1930s and 40s. The recipe allowed for many different types of spirits including gin daisies, whiskey daisies and even tequila daisies. The original recipe called for tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and a splash of soda. Ultimately, this Mexican-influenced beverage adopted its Spanish name, margarita, meaning daisy in Spanish.
From its origins – wherever they may be – comes hundreds of variations of the original margarita. As of 2008, the margarita was the most commonly ordered drink in the U.S. Current numbers place the margarita as the 5th most requested alcoholic beverage. Margaritas are still popular and are served in glasses rimmed with salt or sugar, straight up, over ice, or frozen. No matter how you enjoy your margarita, celebrate the histories, tales, and development of the margarita this Friday on National Margarita Day. Often times stories and consumer curiosity for new flavors, such as the margarita, have the ability to shape what the world is drinking!