The not-so-Mexican origins of the Margarita cocktail and how to prepare it

The origins of the Margarita cocktail are often disputed. Some claim it’s a traditional Mexican drink while others are certain it was created in the US.

Picture this: an elegant glass garnished with salt and lemon rim, a nice shot of tequila blended with the perfect combination of sour and sweet flavors, a wedge of lemon to decorate, and lots of ice. I bet you immediately picture yourself having that drink on the beach or a pool. I bet you also thought of accompanying that delicious Margarita with some tasty tacos. Most likely, you’re thinking about colors that remind you of Mexico, and that is because Margaritas are considered one of the country’s most popular exports. But is it?

As with many iconic cocktails and foods, the origins of the refreshing Margarita are often disputed. While some assure it was created in Mexico, most versions situate its origins in the United States. So which is it? But most importantly, how can I prepare an authentic Margarita? Worry not! We’ve got you covered; history and recipe all in all!


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Origins of the Margarita

Mexicanized version of the US drink Daisy

One version states that the Margarita is simply the Mexicanized version of the traditional Daisy cocktail, which makes sense considering that “margarita” is the literal Spanish translation of “daisy.”


According to the story, the Daisy cocktail grew in popularity when the Prohibition era ended. It was a simple but tasty drink made with brandy or bourbon, a lemon or other citric juice, and grenadine. Soon, the Daisy became popular all over the country, reaching and crossing the southern border. Once it was popular in Mexico, they decided to spice it up a little bit, using tequila instead of bourbon and adding a pinch of salt to the combo.

Pleasing an allergic dancer

This version is often taken as the real one. The story goes like this. Carlos “Danny” Herrera, the owner of a popular restaurant in Rosarito Baja California, wanted to please a recurrent customer, an aspiring dancer and actress, who had a severe allergy to hard alcohol. Luckily for Marjorie King, tequila was the only distilled spirit that she could take happily but she didn’t like the flavor that much. Danny then decided to take the best parts of the traditional tequila shot (tequila, salt, and lemon) and turn it into a refreshing and tasty drink for Marjorie. He mixed lemon juice triple sec, and tequila and succeeded in creating the perfect balance between sour and sweet flavors.


Margarita Sames Vs. José Cuervo

The battle of the names. One story claims that a wealthy socialite lady from Texas, Margarita Sames, was happily hosting a party at her Acapulco residency in 1948. She claimed she had invented the Margarita drink and named it after her. The cocktail was an immediate hit to the point that one of her guests, the one and only Tommy Hilton, decided to add the cocktail to the menus of his hotel chains; thus popularizing the drink all over the world!

Now, though Margarita’s story might be delightful to listen to at a fancy socialite party, there are reports of Jose Cuervo using the tagline “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name” in 1945, three years before Margarita Sames’ story.


Frozen Margaritas

Last but not least, we have a true origin story, and that is of the iconic Frozen Margarita. Despite not knowing who invented it or when it was invented, it’s certain that in the early fifties (once it was already a popular cocktail) with the appearance of home blenders, daiquiris became an easy drink to make at home. Changing the ingredients to tequila and lemon, people could make a refreshing frozen margarita effortlessly in the comfort of their homes.

How to prepare an authentic Margarita?

Ok, we’ve talked already a lot about the many versions regarding the origin of the Margarita, but might be saying “can we please skip to the part on how to prepare it?!” Of course!



Two lemons / 2 oz. of Cointreau / 4 oz. tequila / 1 lemon wedge / 1 teaspoon of salt

How to:

Mix in a shaker with ice tequila, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Shake for some seconds until the shaker gets cold. In a glass previously garnished with lemon and salt on the rim, add the mixture. Add a wedge of lemon to decorate. If you want to spice it up a little bit you can use chili powder on the rim, or even prepare a frozen Margarita by mixing the ingredients into a blender.

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