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Tequila and the Margarita

a cocktail that is best served frosted by rolling oceans of ice, the green goddess arouses the senses with her kiss of smoke and nectar. With each sip, warmth blossoms in the chest like the brilliant flowers that perfume those faraway fields under blue heavens.

a month ago

During the month of March I am going to me talking about Tequila, Its orgins and history as well as some of the most popular cocktails made by this amazing spirit. 

Tequila has a long and storied history in Mexico dating back centuries. From its origins as a native Aztec drink to the modern tequila cocktail craze, this iconic spirit has fascinated imbibers worldwide. Tequila’s most famous showcase is undoubtedly the margarita cocktail. Sweet and tangy with a smooth tequila base, the margarita highlights tequila’s complex flavors.

The Origins of Tequila in Mexico

Tequila’s roots trace back to ancient Mesoamerica before European conquest. The native Nahuatl people fermented an early version of tequila from the agave plant for ceremonial drinks. When the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, they brought distillation techniques to produce early mezcals and tequilas.

In the 1600s, mass production of distilled agave spirits grew in the city of Tequila, Jalisco. By the late 1800s, tequila had spread across Mexico, aided by the completion of the railroad connecting major cities. Tequila production was dominated by Cenobio Sauza who helped give tequila a reputation for quality.

The tequila industry rose through the early 1900s despite setbacks like Prohibition and the Great Depression. By the 1940s, the designation “Tequila” was protected by law to enforce production standards. Through the latter 20th century, tequila gained worldwide popularity as a premier cocktail ingredient. Premium 100% agave tequilas are now beloved by connoisseurs.

Many origin stories exist for the margarita, but it gained popularity as a Mexican-American drink along the Texas-Mexico border and in Tijuana tourist spots in the early-mid 20th century. One account credits the margarita to Carlos "Danny" Herrera of Tijuana restaurant Rancho La Gloria in 1938. As the story goes, he created it for customer Marjorie King who was allergic to many spirits except tequila.

Other tales credit Dallas socialite Margarita Sames with popularizing the cocktail at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948. Or a Ritz Hotel bartender in Tijuana named Pancho Morales who claimed he invented the margarita in 1942. Another legend points to Mexican restaurant owner Doña Bertha who supposedly created it in Taxco, Mexico in the 1940s.

Wherever precisely it was born, the margarita became a pop culture sensation in the 1960s and beyond, hailed for its refreshing blend of citrus and tequila. It evolved into a versatile, crowd-pleasing classic enjoyed everywhere from backyard patios to fancy cocktail bars. Frozen margaritas also took the drink into blender territory.

From Mexican cantinas to American steakhouses, the margarita remains a beloved staple today. When made properly, it’s a well-balanced medium-sweet cocktail that lets tequila’s flavors shine through.

As the traditional margarita cocktail surged in popularity across the 20th century, variations and riffs on the classic drink soon arose. One of the most enduring and beloved twists is the frozen margarita - a slushy, icy chilled take on the tangy tequila classic.

The Frozen Margarita

The origins of the brain-freezingly cold frozen margarita are murky, with several claims of its invention. The earliest known printed frozen margarita recipe appeared in a 1972 issue of Esquire magazine. As the story goes, Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez was inspired in 1971 to put margaritas in an ice cream machine, yielding the world's first frozen margarita.

Martinez went on to patent a margarita machine and open up his Tex-Mex chain La Madera. His early machines used a rotating cylinder and blades to blend ice and ingredients into a soft, frozen slurry. Martinez certainly helped popularize frozen margaritas beyond their place of origin. Today you can find this Modern genius at Mariano’s and La Hacienda. Mariano’s original machine actually sits in the the Smithsonian. 

However, other origin stories for frozen margaritas date even earlier. Some point to an improvised blender version served in the 1960s at a California restaurant called the Tail o’ the Cock. Owner Donald Dafoe supposedly made margaritas using ice cream and milk in a spinning restaurant mixer, creating a coarse frozen drink.

Others credit Fred and Ted Jones of Sikeston, Missouri with accidentally inventing the frozen margarita in the 1950s when they used their Slurpee machine to blend up a batch. Still others say Oasis Bar owner Santiago "Jimmy" Garcia crafted the first in San Antonio in 1948 using a soft serve ice cream machine.

Who truly created the first frozen margarita is uncertain. But the various claims suggest the idea arose organically in multiple places as bartenders and owners experimented with blending margaritas into icy, frozen forms. The machines may have changed, but the concept remained the same - a boozy, slushy twist on a classic.

Frozen margaritas rapidly grew famous at Tex-Mex chains like Chi-Chi's in the late 1970s before exploding nationwide as backyard party staples. With ready-made mixes, blenders, and margarita machines, frozen margaritas can now be whipped up anywhere.

While quick and easy to make, beware of subpar pre-mixed versions! For smooth perfection, use fresh ingredients and natural ice just like the origins - smooth tequila, fresh citrus juice, and icy chunks blended to brain-freezing glory.

How to Make the Perfect Margarita Cocktail

Ingredients

Instructions

The key to a great margarita is using high-quality ingredients. Choose 100% agave tequila with nice oak and vanilla notes. Only use fresh-squeezed lime juice and real agave syrup or Cointreau. Adjust sweetness by adding more agave or citrus to taste.

Shake up this Mexican elixir for a perfectly balanced margarita cocktail! Salud!

As always I am open to hear your take and your input. You can reach me at [email protected]

Brian Certain

Published a month ago