Are you drinking the original margarita?
There is no drink more Mexican than tequila. Therefore, we might think that there is no cocktail more Mexican than the margarita. That mix of tequila, lime and salt is unmistakable. But, did you know that it wasn’t always the most popular Mexican drink? In fact, not everybody agrees on what the original margarita truly is.
The history of margaritas, particularly their origin, is contentious. While some place it in the United States, there are those who claim its origin took place in Mexico. Regardless, it is one of the most popular Mexican cocktails. In fact, it is likely the most popular drink among tourists to our beaches, whether in Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, or Cancun. Tourists are frequently seen relaxing on the beach or by the pool with a glass of margarita in hand. The greatest way to enjoy the sun and warmth that characterize our beaches is with a margarita in hand. But now it’s time to get down to business.
How did the margarita came to be?
There are numerous ideas as to how the margarita came to be. One relates a beloved American dancer in a club in Rosarito, Baja California, and the other is a drink that came to Mexico from the United States during the time of alcohol prohibition. However, the most accepted and documented is that it was the creation of David Daniel Negrete Covarrubias. Its invention took place in the bar of the luxurious Gran Hotel Garci-Crespo in the city of Tehuacán, Puebla. The year was 1934.
There, Daniel would meet Margarita Orozco, a lady whose request would transform his life. These are Daniel’s own words, in a brief interview given in 1982 in Ensenada, when he described the afternoon when one of the world’s most renowned drinks was born:
Margarita liked to sit at the bar and talk to me while I was working. On one occasion, she said, “Daniel, I want you to prepare me a cocktail with salt. I have the habit of drinking any cocktail or drink I ask for with salt. It embarrasses me to be asking for salt all the time, especially when I am with my friends.”
Daniel took the shaker and filled it with ice. He squeezed an ounce of lime. Then took the bottle of tequila and poured an ounce and a half with the then unglamorous liquor. He finished it with three-quarters of an ounce of Cointreau, an orange peel-based triple sec liqueur. Finally, he shook to mix.
You may also like: Mexican cuisine, changed and forgotten?
Daniel had stylized the traditional way of drinking tequila by mixing it directly with the lime and softening it with ice and the citrus-based liqueur – according to the Academia Mexicana del Tequila AC, the liqueur combines very favorably with citrus mixers for some organoleptic reason-, all that remained was to integrate the salt and present it.
I looked at the glass rack, took a champagne glass, and rubbed a lime around the neck. I took the salt shaker and dusted it over the moistened area of the glass. It got a lovely white collar around the neck. I took the shaker and shook it again before pouring the contents into the glass. Then I said ‘here’s your new drink.’
Margarita cupped her hands around the glass and raised it to her lips. The salt dissolved with the liquid, counteracting the acidity of the lime in its own way and containing the harsher part of the tequila while increasing its flavor.
-What is its name? -she inquired.
-What will it be called? -I repeated, Well, it’s named Margarita after you.
Is that the original margarita?
Of course, such a well-known beverage cannot be satisfied with a single version of its creation. Let’s take a look at a few more. According to some, the margarita is a variant of an American drink. Take the version of cocktail historian David Wondrich, author of the book Imbibe! he claims that this cocktail is the Mexican equivalent of the American drink Daisy.
Because of its simplicity: alcohol (typically brandy or bourbon), with a little citrus juice and grenadine, the Daisy became popular after the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States ended.
Soon after, it made its way to the southern border, where it was blended with tequila, the national drink; it also changed its name to its Spanish equivalent, and thus the margarita was born.
According to another hypothesis, it is a creation of Carlos “Danny” Herrera, owner of the Rancho La Gloria restaurant in Rosarito, Baja California. Marjorie King, a dancer who was allergic to various distillates but not tequila, was one of his most devoted and adoring customers. So, “Danny” concocted a drink out of lime juice, triple sec, and tequila for Marjorie, who disliked tequila shots.
And what happens with margarita frozen?
The frappé form of the margarita is an all-American creation that dates back to the early 1950s. It was then when a specific type of blender became popular for making daiquiris.
Someone had a bright idea. if they could do it with the rum, sugar, lime, and strawberry-based drink, they could do it with margaritas and tequila. Thus, the frozen margarita was born.
From there, a lot of versions came. Lime was no longer necessary. Mango, strawberry, tamarind, any fruit juice mixed with tequila is now called a margarita, to the dismay of purists.
But don’t worry, tequila is a generous mixer! For a golden close, here is the original and classic margarita recipe, with the signature of the very Daniel Negrete: