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History of the Margarita

For many vacationers in Mexico, the libation of choice is the Margarita. And take it from us: You can get some mighty fine versions right here at Privilege Aluxes, from the Privilege Beach Club to the Cena En Pool Bar. (Actually, don’t take it from us: Come visit and taste for yourself!)

These days, Margaritas are well established in the upper echelon of the cocktail family, a go-to drink in many parts of the world. But when and where exactly did this transcendent blend of tequila, triple sec, lime, and salt arise? Who’s the original Margarita mastermind?

Well, the short answer is we don’t really know for sure. That’s not for lack of potential origin stories, though. And it seems likely we can trace the margarita’s birth to sometime in the 1930s or 1940s.

Some Margarita History

One intriguing record (explained in this Liquor.com article) comes from 1936, when the editor of a small-town Iowa newspaper, James Graham, and his wife sought out while on vacation a Tijuana bar their taxi driver had clued them in about. The locally celebrated barkeep, one Mr. Madden, made a cocktail called the Tequila Daisy that Graham ended up writing about back home. Madden told him he’d created the concoction by mistake, grabbing the wrong bottle to mix a drink for a customer.

As the Liquor.com piece notes, it’s possible Madden’s mistake came from a request for a Brandy Daisy, a cocktail widely imbibed at the time. And there is a link between the Daisy and the Margarita: Margarita in Spanish means “daisy.”

But Madden’s claim to fame is definitely contested, as this thorough VinePair article demonstrates. There’s also the story of Carlos “Danny” Herrera, proprietor of the Rancho La Gloria restaurant in Tijuana, who said he invented the Margarita in 1938 to please the restricted palette of a patron, Marjorie King. She claimed to be allergic to all liquor but tequila, and she didn’t like that straight. Herrera embellished the standard salt-and-lime-bolstered tequila shot and voila: the Margarita debuts on the cocktail stage. (Maybe.)

And then there’s the well-known story of Don Carlos Orozco, an Ensenada barkeep who in 1941 was experimenting with his poisons when the daughter of the German ambassador, Margarita Henkel, wandered in thirsty. She sampled Orozco’s test drink and pronounced it good, and he therefore named it after her.

Mexico’s official news agency, Notivex, meanwhile, gives credit to Francisco “Pancho” Morales, who allegedly faked the Margarita into existence in 1942 when trying to fulfill a drink request he’d never heard of.

If you can believe it, we’re only scratching the surface of competing Margarita backstories. (Just check out that VinePair piece, or this A Bar Above writeup.) 

Investigate the Margarita at Privilege Aluxes

However it came to be—and however you like yours made—we can all agree a Margarita is the perfect beverage with which to toast one of our world-famous Isla Mujeres sunsets. So come spend a well-earned vacation here at Privilege Aluxes, and ponder cocktail creation stories (or not) as you sip one with us!