National Margarita Day 2012: Popular Tequila Cocktail’s Origins and History Shrouded in Mystery

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Today is National Margarita Day! Restaurants and bars across the United States will feature the popular cocktail made of tequila, triple sec (often Cointreau) and lemon or lime juice.

The drink will be served shaken with ice, on the rocks, frozen and straight up in salt-rimmed glasses for thirsty customers around the world. Some may drink the popular tequila cocktail with raspberry or strawberry juice additives while other customers enjoy the classic  lemon-lime flavor.

Despite its overwhelming popularity, the exact origin of the margarita remains unknown to this day. The margarita was first mentioned in print in the December 1953 issue of Esquire, where the magazine stated, 'She's from Mexico, Señores, and she is lovely to look at, exciting and provocative. Many bartenders have claimed to have invented the popular tequila drink; however, the cocktail's true history remains a mystery.

One popular story of the margarita begins in 1948, when wealthy Dallas socialite, Margaret Margarita Sames, held a Christmas party at her vacation home in Alcapulco, Mexico. Sames loved to experiment with new drinks and offered her guests a cocktail made from tequila, triple sec and lime juice. The result was a huge success and the drink quickly spread across Texas. According to legend, hotel mogul Tommy Hilton was one of the guests at the party and he eventually added the drink to the bar menu at his hotel chain.

However, Sames' story seems unlikely as Jose Cuervo, the popular tequila brand, allegedly began running advertisements featuring margaritas as early as 1945. Margarita: it's more than a girl's name, the ad read.

In another widely accepted story, bartender Carlos Danny Herrera was the first to invent the popular margarita. According to legend, Herrera first made the tequila cocktail for an aspiring actress, Majorie King. The showgirl claimed she was allergic to all hard liquors, except tequila. In 1938, she asked one of the bartenders, Herrera, at the Rancho Del Gloria Bar in Rosarita Beach, Mexico to make her a drink with mainly tequila. Herrera combined all the elements of a tequila shot--tequila, lime juice, salt and triple sec - pouring it over shaved ice and naming it Margarita for Majorie's Spanish name.

Another popular story claims the margarita was invented by bartender Don Carlos Orozco in October, 1941, in a Mexican bar for Margarita Henkel, the daughter of a German ambassador. Orozco named the drink after her as she was the first to ever taste it.

There are many other variations of how the margarita was first created.

Despite the uncertainty of where the first margarita was developed, the drink has remained the most popular tequila cocktail in the United States since the mid-1940s.

Enjoy a tequila cocktail today with the most popular margarita recipes. For locations on bars offering celebratory deals for the special day, find a National Margarita Day party here.  

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