Monday, June 12, 2017

History of the Margarita

Like any drink that reaches such ubiquity, the history of the Margarita is shrouded in layers of myth and marketing. As such, the 'where' and 'who' are things we may never truly know. What we do know is that this refreshing summer favorite consists of tequila, lime, and an orange liqueur served in a salt-rimmed glass. Beyond that, we get into speculation and experimentation (the fun stuff).

The name 'margarita' is the Spanish form of the English name 'Margaret,' but is also the Spanish name given to the Daisy. Now it just so happens that, around the time that we see the margarita gaining popularity historically, there was another common drink in America called a daisy. The daisy similarly involved a citrus liqueur, a complementary citrus flavor, and rum. This being only a decade or so after the end of prohibition, however, there was a lingering popularity in the southern United States of imported liquor from south of the border - specifically, tequila.

A simple adaptation of an existing drink, however doesn't quite explain the rapid growth in popularity of the drink in the 1940s and 1950s that continues to this day nor the drastic reduction in complexity (a daisy is made with upwards of 7 ingredients.) So the title of godfather of the margarita was pretty much up for grabs for the latter half of the twentieth century. After much speculation and detailed research, the most widely accepted story is that of a bartender from Ensenada, Mexico by the name of Don Carlos Orozco.

Don Carlos was a bartender at Hussong's Cantina on the western coast of the Baja Peninsula. On a slow afternoon in October of 1941, he was experimenting with some new drink recipes when in walks Margarita Henkel - the daughter of the local German ambassador. Being a customer of some prestige, Don Carlos offers her his new experiment in welcome. She had no idea then, but she was taking the biggest step forward in the history of tequila since the conquistadores.

In the ensuing decades, there have been countless incarnations of the famous beverage have developed. Margarita flavors run the gamut from chipotle pineapple to blood orange and just about anything you can think of in between. In total, the margarita has become so popular that, in 2008, it was the number 1 most ordered drink in the US, accounting for 18% of bar drink orders.

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