Spirit Guide: Possible Stories of the Origins of the Margarita (Compiled by Raul Yrastorza of Las Perlas)

January 15th, 2014 — 3:34pm

Spiced Daisy

Barman “Willie” from Mexico City, 1934 in the employ of the Melguizo Family

Marguerite Hemery lived in the Rio Grande Valley since the 1930s and went to a restaurant in Matamoros called Los Dos Republicas. She was friends with the owner and, as the story goes, his bartender composed a special drink for her.

W.J Tarling 1936

In 1937 the “Café Royal Cocktail Book” was published

(The Picador is one of the 15 Tequila based drinks in the Café Royal Cocktail Book, published in 1937.

If the ingredients to this drink look familiar, that’s because the ingredients are the same as the drink we commonly call the Margarita. Same ingredients, but different name leaves numerous questions begging to be answered.

Or, bearing in mind that that the Café Royal Cocktail Book was published in 1937, is it possible that the Margarita was actually created in London under the name Picador in the early 1930′s and changed name after reaching the U.S.A?

The original drink which would become the Margarita – THE PICADOR- was invented in England. The PICADOR calls for ¼ fresh lime (or lemon juice, ¼ Cointreau, ½ oz tequila Shaken (basic margarita recipe)

Danny Negrete, 1936

According to Salvador Negrete, the son of Daniel Negrete, the family story goes that Daniel opened a bar at the Garci Crispo hotel with his brother, David. The day before David’s marriage, Daniel presented the margarita as a wedding present to Margarita, his sister-in-law.
It was a combination of one-third Triple Sec, one-third tequila and one-third squeezed Mexican lime juice. The drink was not blended and was served with hand-crushed ice.
Ratios: 1:1:1 (33% tequila, 33% Triple Sec, And 33% fresh lime juice).

Danny Herrera, 1938

In Ensenada, Mexico, Danny Herrera, a renowned Mexican bartender who worked at the Riviera del Pacifico Hotel and Casino was completely in love with Marjorie King, an American actress who hated taking tequila pure. Tequila was also the only liquor that her body could tolerate. Thus, with the intention of wooing her, Herrera used his ingenuity to bring together flavors to meet Marjorie’s tastes, until he finally found one of the world’s most famous drinks.

Rita De La Rosa, 1938

According to Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, a beautiful showgirl in 1938 named Rita De La Rosa was a bartender and improvised the cocktail.

Don Carlos Orozco, October 1941

He concocted the perfect mixture of equal parts tequila, Damiana (Cointreau is used now) and lime, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass for Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico at Hussong’s Cantina

Enrique Bastate Gutierrez, early 1940s

Gutierrez, who lived in Tijuana, Mexico, boasted to have created the Margarita as a homage to actress Rita Hayworth, whose real name was Margarita Cansino.  Other versions of the story claim the Margarita was indeed named after the actress, but in the 1930s, before she adopted her screen name. As a teenager, Margarita Cansino worked as a dancer at the Foreign Club, in Tijuana, where she supposedly inspired a bartender.

Francisco “Pancho” Morales, 4 July 1942

A bartender, Pancho Morales invented the margarita on July 4, 1942, at a Ciudad Juárez bar named Tommy’s Place. Supposedly, a woman requested a Magnolia (brandy, Cointreau, and an egg yolk topped with Champagne). Morales was a little fuzzy on the recipe; he improvised and his ersatz creation was a big hit.

Santos Cruz, 1948

According to the promotional flyer for the legendary Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas, head bartender Santos Cruz created the Margarita for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee in 1948. The Balinese Room was opened in 1941 and was Texas’s finest nightclub with A/C, casino gambling, superb food and drinks, and stellar entertainment until the Texas Rangers finally shut it down in 1957.

Margaret Sames, December 1948

Sames, who created the drink at her Acapulco bar, gave the reason of being “close with a lot of famous hotel and restaurant people” in introducing the margarita.  Sames used one part Cointreau, two parts tequila and one part lime juice for her margarita. Knowing that most people drank tequila preceded by a lick of salt, she chose to garnish her cocktail with a rim of coarse salt.  Sames moved to El Paso, Texas in 1958 where she was well known for her lavish parties.
Ratios: 2:1:1 = 4:2:2 (50% tequila, 25% Cointreau, 25% fresh lime juice).