Booze Banter: 10 facts about the Margarita

It's one of the most popular cocktails in the world, but how much do you know about the Margarita?

It has more variations than a snowflake, its origins are as mysterious as an Agatha Cristie novel, and it so popular it has an entire week dedicated to it. To mark its national day (22 February), we're bringing you 10 facts about the Margarita. Keep scrolling for a Tequila-fuelled education.

1. Where and when?

Margarita One origin story of the Margarita claims that Mexican restaurant owner Carlos 'Danny' Herrera created the cocktail in 1938 for a showgirl called Marjorie. Marjorie was allergic to all forms of alcohol with the exception of Tequila, though she wasn't a fan of knocking it back straight. Herrera supposedly solved the problem by adding salt and lime and creating the world’s first Margarita. That’s our kind of problem solving.

2. Where and when (part two)?

Margaret Sames Another story goes that the Margarita was the creation of Dallas socialite, Margaret Sames (pictured), who came up with the recipe for the cocktail while holidaying in Acapulco. The proof for this theory, they say, is in the fact she named the drink after herself. And why wouldn’t you?

3. Where and when (part three)?

If you know your foreign languages, you’ll know that Margarita translates to mean Daisy in Spanish. Therefore it may be logical to believe that the Margarita is an evolution of the popular 1930s cocktail known as The Daisy. The Daisy was originally made using brandy, but during prohibition many people swapped this out for Tequila as they drifted over the Mexican border to get their alcohol fix.

4. Where and when (part four)?

And finally, the fourth theory of the Margarita’s origins dates back to the 1937 publication of the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, in which you’ll find a recipe for a Picador, which uses the same concentrations of Tequila, triple sec and lime juice as a Margarita. Coincidence? Who knows.

5. Debut in print

The first known publication of a Margarita recipe was in the December 1953 issue of Esquire, with a recipe calling for an ounce (30ml) of Tequila, a dash of triple sec and the juice of half a lime or lemon.

6. Frozen (not the movie)

You know what they say: never underestimate a high school drop-out. It's Mariano Martinez, who had ditched school in favour of working in a bar, that we have to thank for the frozen Margarita we know and love today. Back in 1971, Martinez was searching for a solution to keep his Margaritas cold in the Texas heat. He was inspired by the Slurpee machine at 7-11, and believed that he could adjust his recipe to freeze in a similar way. And so the Frozen Margarita was born. His revolutionary idea lives on at his own restaurant, Mariano’s Hacienda Ranch Dallas, where customers can celebrate with the original frozen Margarita. Want to see the original machine for yourself? It can be found at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

7. The biggest

How big is too big for a Margarita? For us (and the team at The Flamingo Hotel’s Margaritaville Casino in Las Vegas) the limit does not exist. This Nevada hot-spot holds the honour of making the largest Margarita in the world, clocking in at 32,176 litres and presented in a 17-foot-tall tank. The drink, called the Lucky Rita, took 60 people 300 hours to make, and was created to celebrate the opening of the casino in 2011.

8. The most expensive

If you like only the best for your Margarita (and have the bank balance to get you the best), Cantina Laredo in London’s Covent Garden is the place to go. The Cantina Laredo Margarita is a blend of two exclusive Tequilas: 1800 Coleccion – one of the rarest Tequilas in the world – and Jose Cuervo Platino. The pricey cocktail utilises the juice of white pineapples and a lime-kumquat hybrid known as a ‘limequat’. It is then finished with the flesh of finger limes, also known as ‘lime caviar’. It sounds great, but it doesn't sounds like the ‘most expensive Margarita in the world’, right? Well we haven’t got to the garnish yet. This Margarita is finished with a diamond that floats gently on a pineapple flower. Of course you can’t just rock up and order this cocktail. The bar requires two days notice (which is enough time for you to call you bank manager and ask for an extension on your overdraft) – then you can pick it up from Cantina Laredo where it will be under the watchful eyes of two security guards. Oh and the price? A cool £50,000 (US$6,500). Cost-of-living crisis, who?

9. The most popular

CGA by Nielsen IQ’s latest cocktail tracker revealed the top-ranking cocktails in the US on-trade, and surprise surprise: the Margarita came out on top. In addition, the cocktail topped the Google search list in 30 countries in 2022, including the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, as well as France, Spain and Germany, Japan and Vietnam. There are around 546,280 online searches for Margarita recipes worldwide per month, according to research conducted by Funkin' Cocktails.

10. The glassware

Margarita-cocktail Anyone that says glassware isn't important when it comes to cocktails doesn't know what they're talking about, though the origin of the iconic Margarita glass is as mysterious as the drink's origins. One of the most popular theories is that the glass evolved at a restaurant in Los Angeles. When a set of peculiarly shaped champagne glasses were accidentally delivered, the bartender suggested using them as Margarita glasses instead, since they looked bigger and could therefore command a higher price. That story sounds legit, but there is a saucier story making the rounds, and we're inclined to believe it: allegedly, this glass got its shape from Marie Antoinette’s left breast – she wanted her court to toast to her health by drinking out of bosom-shaped glassware. We'll cheers to that.

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