The Secret History of Margarita

The Margarita is perhaps the most agreed-upon tequila cocktail in the world. Even the most ardent vodka and whisky cocktail lover will swear by it when ordering a tequila cocktail. So, what makes the Margarita so unique, and what are its origins? In this post, we try to decipher the secret history of Margarita.

It's more of an obscure history

Despite the efforts of several liquor historians and connoisseurs, the origins of this classic cocktail have remained somewhat of a mystery. Although there are many origin stories involving famous actors, socialites and liquor connoisseurs, the multitude only adds to their questionable authenticity. Unless we can find a carbon-datable piece of paper with a handwritten Margarita recipe and the bartender's name, it's impossible to say who invented it. And when you consider the simplicity of the drink, the fact that no one can pinpoint its origins becomes even more fascinating. However, there is some consensus that the Margarita is not a Mexican cocktail and rather an Americanized, Tex-Mex cocktail.

The theory gains more traction when you consider the facts surrounding the Margarita. A simple Google search can tell you that "margarita" translates to "daisy flower", possibly pointing to the Daisy Cocktail that dates back to the 1920s.

The Daisy Cocktail is mixed using a spirit, citrus/orange liqueur and soda water – not entirely unlike a Margarita. Moreover, when you consider the Prohibition Era, the plausibility of this argument multiplies. Many Americans were going to Mexico to beat the ban and tried tequila for the first time. Subbing the main spirit with tequila might have given a new twist to the Daisy and perhaps a new name. Also, several drinks resemble the Margarita if you peruse the pages of pre-1940 drinks manuals.

For example, the Café Royal Cocktail Book published in 1937 mentions a cocktail called the Picador, listing Cointreau liqueur, tequila and fresh lemon. That's a pretty close call to the classic Margarita.

Mixing the Margarita

The early Margaritas were sloppy, sugary drinks that came in ridiculously large glasses. However, mixing the drink falls into the Daisy format, where you pour two parts tequila, one part liqueur, and three-quarters lemon juice. You can mess around with that format to individualize the mix, but the result almost always tastes like a Margarita.

However, after the cocktail revival kicked in the 2000s, Margaritas have become more carefully wrought drinks with inclusion of quality tequila and curacao. Plenty of establishments have also come up with their specials, substituting the orange liqueur with agave syrup and giving the drink a more refreshing taste.

Keeping it Simple

We found that keeping it simple suits us the best when mixing a Margarita as it preserves the mellow sweetness of this drink. Although purists will stand by brandy-based curacao or Cointreau, you can also mix the drink with agave syrup. Its sugar comes from the same plant as the tequila gives the drink a brighter finish.

No matter how you mix it, the Margarita is an extremely drinkable, subtle cocktail, and no one can argue with that. Cheers!

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