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Who Invented the Margarita? Classic Cocktails 101, With Jupiter Liquor Store in Plano, TX

The Margarita: a classic cocktail so iconic that it has its own glass! Margaritas are beautifully balanced and very delicious, with the perfect combination of sweet, sour, salty and bitter. But who invented this iconic cocktail?



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Like many classic cocktails, the margarita’s true origin is shrouded in mystery, and unfortunately, we may never know exactly who invented it, or even where. We do know that it was invented sometime in the mid-1930s to early-1940s; there are enough mentions of the margarita by the mid-1940s that the drink must have been invented before then. However, dozens of people claim to have invented the drink, and from varying geographical locations and dates. Here are some popular origin stories for the margarita:


1935:

A bartender in Matamoros, Mexico supposedly created the drink for a patron named Marguerite Hemery. She loved the cocktail and he named the drink after her – the “Marguerita.”


1936:

A reporter named James Graham wrote about the Tequila Daisy, which later became known as a Margarita. Graham and his wife were vacationing in Tijuana when a bartender, a Mr. Madden, accidentally grabbed a bottle of tequila instead of brandy while making a Brandy Daisy – a cocktail that has nearly the exact same ingredients as a classic margarita besides the brandy. The drink turned out to be a delicious hit, and the Tequila Daisy soon morphed into the Margarita – meaning “daisy” in Spanish.

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A bartender named Danny Negrete in Puebla, Mexico, presented the margarita as a wedding present to his future sister-in-law, whose name was Margarita. His drink combined equal parts tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice served over hand crushed ice in a rocks glass.


1937:

A bartender in Los Angeles named Johnny Durlesser claimed in 1955 that he invented the margarita in 1937. His classic margarita recipe exactly matches the recipe for a drink called a Picador, first published in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book in 1937 by the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild, of which Durlesser was a member. However, the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book was written by a famous London bartender named William J. Tarling, and the precise origin of the Picador recipe is unclear.


1938:

A Tijuana-area bartender and restaurant owner named Carlos “Danny” Herrera claims he invented the cocktail for a patron, actress and showgirl Marjorie King. She was allergic to most hard liquors except for tequila, but did not enjoy drinking it straight. Herrera mixed 3 parts tequila, 2 parts Cointreau, and 1 part fresh lemon juice, and blended the ingredients together with shaved ice.


Tequila giant Jose Cuervo claims that the margarita was invented in 1938 by a bartender in Mexico for a showgirl named Rita de la Rosa. Some stories claim that Rita de la Rosa was actually one of Marjorie King’s stage names, which could perhaps lend more credence to Herrera’s claim!


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Early 1940s:

Bartender Enrique Bastate Gutierrez created a cocktail for actress Rita Hayworth (given name Margarita Cansino) when she worked at a Tijuana theater sometime in the early 1940s, and immediately named the drink after her.


In 1941 in Ensenada, Mexico, bartender Don Carlos Orozco crafted a cocktail for a regular patron named Margarita Henkel Cesena, and named the new drink after her.


In Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, bartender Francisco “Pancho” Morales invented the margarita on July 4, 1942. A patron requested a Magnolia cocktail, which the bartender did not know how to make, only remembering that the recipe contained Cointreau. He improvised and created a drink with Cointreau, tequila and lime juice, and it was an instant hit.


Perhaps one of the above stories is true, perhaps none of them are. Or perhaps pieces of several of the stories are correct, and the real conception of the margarita is a wonderful hodgepodge of a story that is as delightful as the drink. Whatever the case, the margarita is definitely here to stay, and it is a fantastic classic cocktail worth celebrating!


 

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