While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cocktails known around the world, few are as popular as the margarita. (Photo: iStock)
It’s sort of the grande dame of cocktails, particularly in America.
Sixty percent of Americans allegedly list the tequila-based concoction as one of their favorite cocktails over the daiquiri (44 percent), pina colada (36 percent), Long Island iced tea (33 percent) and mojito (29 percent), according to a 2016 consumer report by Nielsen CGA.
National Margarita Day founder Todd McCalla is said to have created it to “spread his love for margaritas around the world.” (Photo: iStock)
Due to its popularity, it’s no wonder the margarita has its own holiday — National Margarita Day — on Feb. 22. The holiday’s founder, Todd McCalla, is said to have created it to “spread his love for margaritas around the world.”
But just where was the margarita invented?
The origin of the drink — which traditionally consists of tequila, Cointreau and lime juice — is sketchy, as its history is shrouded in so much mystery that it depends on who you ask.
The more dubious version of the margarita’s origin story is that it was first served by a bartender in Galveston, Texas, to singer Peggy Lee in the 1940s, National Geographic reported. He supposedly named it Margarita, the Spanish version of Margaret, of which the traditional nickname is Peggy.
Then there’s the theory that the margarita was actually invented by Texas socialite Margaret Sames, who claimed she concocted the drink at a house party in Acapulco in 1948, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
One of the more commonly accepted theories is that Carlos “Danny” Herrera created the margarita at his restaurant in Tijuana around 1938. (Photo: iStock)
This theory, however, appeared to be debunked by author Anthony Dias Blue, who wrote “The Complete Book of Spirits.” In it, Blue writes that the first importer of Jose Cuervo in the United States advertised with the tagline, “Margarita: It’s more than a girl’s name,” in 1945, which was three years before Sames claimed she invented the drink.
One of the more commonly accepted theories is that Carlos “Danny” Herrera created the margarita at his restaurant in Tijuana around 1938.
Herrera is believed to have invented the cocktail for one of his customers, an aspiring actress named Marjorie King. King was supposedly allergic to all alcohol except tequila, and so he concocted a refreshing drink that would later be known as the margarita.
But there’s yet another bartender who claims the margarita as his own: Pancho Morales, who spoke with Texas Monthly in 1974, claims he was working as a bartender in Juarez, Mexico, in 1942 when a woman came in and asked for a “magnolia” — a similar cocktail made with citrus, simple syrup and whiskey. Not remembering exactly how to make it, and not willing to admit it, Morales gave her something he deemed similar enough. She told him it wasn’t a magnolia, and he pretended that he had previously thought she told him to make her a “margarita” — which was not an actually a known cocktail, but simply Spanish name for a daisy (and also a female given name) which kind of sounded like “magnolia.”
“Pretty soon she ordered another one and someone said, ‘Hey, what’s that?'” Morales said.
Regardless of where and when the margarita was invented, however, it does it appear it was almost certainly named after a woman.
And while we may never be able to confirm the margarita’s true origin story, it probably doesn’t matter much. Millions of people around the world will likely continue to toast to the popular cocktail, regardless of its mysterious origin.