What would life be like without margaritas? The sun wouldn’t shine as bright, margarita Mondays would just be, well, Mondays, and happy hour would never be the same. Blended, on the rocks, or with a Coronita sticking out the top, we love margaritas in every shape, size, and form — but if you’re asking, we prefer them big. Margaritas are a staple on any bar menu and come in a variety of flavors and experimental blends. But did you ever stop to think what beautiful mind was the first to create the classic cocktail?
There are a lot of theories swirling around the blended beverage, but all we know for sure is that margaritas didn’t show up to the American bar scene until the late 1930s, when tequila became more popular in the States. This is a result of the prohibition, when Americans began smuggling the Mexican spirit into the country, so there’s a lot of outside history influencing its origin. However, the delicious cocktail found a place next to our half-priced apps on Thirsty Thursdays, and we’re forever grateful. So in case you’re curious about the famous cocktail, here are a few theories about the history of the margarita.
The First Theory
This margarita theory involves a young actress named Marjorie King who was allergic to hard liquor, with the exception of tequila. In 1938, she visited Rancho La Gloria, a restaurant in Tijuana, where the owner, Carlos “Danny” Herrera first created the tequila-based cocktail. He added salt and lime, and named the drink after her — but with a Spanish twist.
The Second Theory
Back in the day of old-school bartending — we’re talking roaring twenties and early '30s — there used to be a cocktail category called the Daisy. These drinks would combine a base liquor, like gin or bourbon, curaçao liqueur, and citrus. A tequila daisy could be found on bar menus during this era, so it’s very likely that it could have evolved into what we now know to be a margarita. Not to mention the word daisy translates to “margarita” in Spanish.
The Third Theory
A 1953 issue of Esquire featured a story on socialite Margarita Sames, who claimed to have created the cocktail during a party at her home in Acapulco, Mexico, in 1948. Sames decided to combine her favorite ingredients — tequila, Cointreau, and lime — to make a custom cocktail for her guests, and they loved it so much they named it after her. This theory is questionable because by the '40s there were already a few advertisements and menus selling margaritas.
The Fourth Theory
A cocktail called a Picador was created in London in 1937, which is very similar to a margarita and could have been a stepping stone to the modern-day drink. William Tarling recorded the recipe in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book. It was made with tequila, Cointreau, and lime, but had no salt.
The Modern Margarita
While a majority of these theories take place in the '30s and '40s, the truth is, the margarita didn’t gain popularity until the '70s. The first frozen margarita machine was invented in 1971 by Mariano Martinez. He created the machine as a solution to the inconsistency and separation that occurred with the blended margaritas he served at his Dallas, Texas, restaurant. So he modified a soft-serve ice cream machine to perfectly blend the margaritas to ensure a perfect balance of alcohol and sugar.