NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY
Tequila: it makes us happy. Particularly in a Margarita cocktail.
Good news, then, that February 22nd is National Margarita Day and in the depth of winter darkness we’ve got the perfect excuse (not that we needed one) to mix up a little citrus vitality.
A DAY FOR DRINKING
As it turns out, the Margarita is worth celebrating, and not just for the obvious reason that it’s pretty tasty. Drinks Historian David Wondrich argues that the Margarita is:
"the last hired guy — the last indispensable cocktail. There are only a few more that everyone agrees is a classic: the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, the Sidecar, the Daiquiri. I don't think there's been a drink invented since that has reached that status."
Plus, according to the MargaritAuthority, On The Border, Americans consume 185,000 margaritas per hour, making it the most popular mixed drink in the world…
So how did we come to be so enamoured with this sweet, salt-rimmed concoction?
A LITTLE HISTORY
Although the Margarita’s roots are deep – world traveler and something of a drink god, Charles H. Baker, reported a cocktail containing tequila, lime, and orange bitters as early as 1939 – the Margarita is essentially a child of the '70s, when, in its frozen form, it firmly cemented its position in the classics Hall of Fame.
However, our journey starts in the 1930s, not in Mexico but in America...
It is very likely that the Margarita is actually a variation of another cocktail that was popular during Prohibition, the Daisy. In fact, Margarita means “daisy” in Spanish. The only difference between the Daisy and the Margarita is that the former was made with brandy, the latter with tequila. Thanks to the budding smuggling trade from Mexico into America during Prohibition, coupled with the scarcity of European brandies and spirits during World War II, tequila was quickly becoming commonplace in American bars…
And while it is the tequila that gives the Margarita its Mexican flair, doubt has been expressed over whether it would have been likely for such a cocktail to emerge out of Mexico in the 30’s. Imbibe Magazine writes, “[it’s] difficult to believe that a Mexican invented this drink although it is completely possible that it was invented on Mexican soil… Mexico has never had a cocktail culture, and to this day Margaritas are never consumed by the locals.” Indeed, perhaps it was American tourists, holidaying in Mexico during the Prohibition, returning with tales of tequila and tequila cocktails and putting the Margarita on their menus, popularising the drink as the bootlegging era came to an end.
There are still a few Mexican claimants who argue they are the creator of the classic cocktail. One such man is Carlos “Danny” Herrera, owner of Tijuana restaurant Rancho La Gloria. Inspired by a picky dancer, Marjorie King, legend has it that she declared she was allergic to all spirits except tequila, so Herrera worked around the prototypical tequila shot (which is taken with salt and lime) and threw together the Margarita. At least, so says his obituary.
Similarly, bartender Don Carlos Orozco was tending bar in Ensenada, Mexico in 1941 when Margarita Henkel, daughter of a German ambassador, walked in. He allowed her to taste his latest experiment and apparently coined the drink in her honour. Danny Negrete is also named as a possible inventor of the drink. Apparently, the cocktail was a wedding gift for his sister-in-law, (named, rather unsurprisingly Margarita). Interestingly, Negrete worked at Agua Cliente Race Track, where starlet Margarita Cansino (known better as Rita Hayworth) would often perform…
And as for frozen margaritas, a world away from true Mexican culture, we know that they were created in 1971 by a Dallas-based restauranteur Mariano Martinez.
There are further tales regarding the disputed Margarita origin, but frankly we’re more interested in making the drink. The three ingredient cocktail – tequila, Cointreau/triple sec, and lime – can be made in just about any bar or home. Whether using cheaper tequila for a dirtier drink; smokey mezcals or 100% agave premium releases; or even (if you’re feeling especially lazy) ready-made Margarita mixer, the outcome is the same: a great drink, worth celebrating.
2 parts Blanco tequila | 1 part Cointreau |
1 part Lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Rub a lime wedge around the Maragrita glass rim and dip in salt. Shake and strain into a Margarita glass. Add a wedge of lime to garnish.
2 parts Blanco tequila | 1 part Grand Marnier |
0.5 part Lime juice | 0.5 part Orange Juice |
0.5 part Simple Syrup | 1 part Chambord
There’s a few variations under this name, but we like this one best. Again, combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Shake, strain and pour. Garnish with a skewer of two blackberries and one raspberry.
Take 1 glass | 2 parts premium tequila | 3 cubes of ice
Forgo the triple sec and lime juice, pour tequila over ice; garnish with a couple of good friends...