Today, Feb. 22, is National Margarita Day! That we know for sure. Who invented the margarita is another story.
Many historians believe that the margarita is a variation of the “Daisy”. The “Daisy” was a popular drink in the 1930′s and 40′s. It is a mix of alcohol, citrus juice, and grenadine served over shaved ice. There were gin daisies, whiskey daisies, and eventually the tequila daisy. By the way, daisy translates to margarita in Spanish.
One story is that Carlos (Danny) Herrera invented the margarita for Marjorie King in 1938. She was a beautiful Ziegfeld showgirl that was allergic to all types of alcohol except for tequila, but she didn’t like to drink it straight. After experimenting, Herrera supposedly created a drink using lime, salt, triple sec, and tequila. In her honor, he called it a “margarita”.
Another story involves a Dallas socialite, Margaret “Margarita” Sames. In 1948, she was hosting a Christmas party at her home in Acapulco. At the party was Nick Hilton, founder of the Hilton hotel chain, Joseph Drown, owner of the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, and Shelton McHenry, the owner of the LA nightspot Tail o’ the Cock. They loved her cocktail and popularized it at their hotels and bar.
Yet another story has the drink named after Rita Hayworth. In the 1940′s she was performing her dance act at The Foreign Club in Tijuana under her real name Margarita Carmen Cansino. Enrique Bastate Gutierrez created the drink, which she loved, and he named it after her.
Those are just a few of the stories. There are many more. If you are curious about the frozen margarita, the recipe first appears in Mabel Stegner’s 1952 Electric Blender Recipes. The margarita even has it’s own frozen margarita-making machine. It was started by a young Texas restauranteur in 1971. Mariano Martinez started serving frozen margaritas to his customers at Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine. The bartenders were making them with blenders, but couldn’t keep up with the demand. Martinez and a friend decided to convert a soft-serve ice-cream machine into a large-scale margarita maker. The prototype can be seen in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Regardless of who invented the delicious treat or whether you are drinking it on ice or frozen, National Margarita Day is one of the most popular food/drink holidays and for good reason too!
-- Doug O’Brien