All About Margarita

Everything you need to know about the quintessential Mexican cocktail
March 20, 2022
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margarita recipe
The Margarita is a world-class favorite | © Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Lovers of the stingy tequila, are you here? As you might know, the Margarita cocktail is part of America’s elite list of favorite cocktails.

The iconic Mexican Margarita cocktail has become the go-to drink in the USA over the past century. Should we also mention that it is an admired worldwide favorite? 

Margaritas are the staple drink for cooling down on a hot summer holiday, but that’s not their only time to shine. 

The drink is a beloved potion all year round, making it one of the most ordered cocktails in bars regardless of the season.

History

Many have fought to take credit for the invention of the margarita. 

margarita cocktail
Many ‘Margaritas’ have claimed to be the muse behind the popular cocktail  | © Lava / Pexels

Unique anecdotes flood the timeline of the Margarita’s past, making its real origin just as blurry as you’ll feel after a few glasses. 

Margarita (and its American version, Margaret) were among the most famous girl names in the 1930s and 40s. Hollywood’s Golden Age overlapped with the boozy beverage’s invention. So it’s really no surprise that there will be many tales of people claiming to be the inventors (or muses) behind the icy cocktail.

One iteration tells the story of a Dallas socialite who created the drink  – accidentally –  at a Christmas party in Acapulco, Mexico (and of course, her name was Margarita Sames).

Others claim to have created the drink in dedication to their significant other. Daniel Negrete, manager of Carci Crespo Hotel, claims that he created the Margarita cocktail as a gift to his partner. At this point, it comes as no surprise that his girlfriend’s name was Margarita. Oh, and she liked salt in her drinks. That might be the reason why tequila shots will be accompanied by a lick of salt till hell freezes over. 

Its origin is on the rocks

mexican cocktail recipes
© Yesmore Content / Unsplash

Another murky narrative attributes the fragrant drink to a bartending mishap by Pancho Morales. Morales was working as a bartender during the 4th of July when a woman came in and asked for a Magnolia. The bartender, who was too proud to admit he didn’t know how to make the cocktail, used the little knowledge he had to combine Cointreau, lime and tequila. And voilà! 

Whichever anecdotal tale you choose to believe, the most credible story doesn’t revolve around famous socialites, partners of bartenders, or accidental genius. 

Cocktail historian David Wondrich believes the Daisy is behind the boozy potion’s real source of inspiration.

Invented in the early 1870s, its recipe includes a shot of booze (usually rum or whiskey), shaken with lemon juice and orange cordial – all topped with a refreshing splash of soda. 

Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?

Hall of fame

Did you know that in Practical Magic’s (1998) famous midnight Margaritas scene, actress Nicole Kidman brought her own bottle of tequila for the cocktails, and all actors on set were tipsy?

Margaritas really are that irresistible, huh? 

Practical Magic – Midnight Margaritas | © ThatMovieTrailerGuy / YouTube

What’s in it?

The Margarita cocktail is solid proof that good things come in threes. 

1 ½ oz. tequila
1 ½ tbsp lime juice, plus extra for the glass
1 tbsp triple sec
Salt
Lime

The original cocktail consists of tequila, orange liquor, and fresh lime juice. If you feel extra fancy, you can serve the queen supreme of cocktails in a glass with a salt-lined rim. But fresh limes are non-negotiable. It usually has an alcohol content of around 27% – enough to make you feel a little fuzzy. 

Garnish? Yes, please! The limes and lemons are waiting to complete the visual aesthetic of your next Margarita glass.

How to serve it

The traditional display of the Margarita cocktail has the drink in a classic coupe glass, featuring a small secondary bowl to allow for more volume.

Some prefer to serve it in a martini or cosmopolitan glass, both of which mimic the thin stem and wide bowl of the margarita glass.

Salting the edge of the glass is one of the pivotal aspects of making a Margarita look – and taste – authentic. But a real pro will do the salting outside of the glass – you don’t want salt falling into your cocktail, don’t you? 

mexican cocktail
© Blackrabbit / Unsplash

Variants

The eponymous Margarita cocktail is a universal recipe, making it the ideal candidate for reinterpretation. 

If you could name a flavor off the top of your head, there’s probably a Margarita recipe for it. Anything from sweet mangos and strawberries to herbal green teas and sharp gingers goes with the cocktail’s earthy tequila. 

All you need to do is add other fruit juices, purees, herbs or spices to the classic mix. The possibilities are truly endless.

As a staple summer cocktail, Margaritas are almost always served on the rocks in what is essentially a tequila slushy. The electric blender helped this form of the Margarita cocktail come to life, and we’re all grateful for it.

Do it yourself

The classic Margarita is one of the easiest drinks to master. 

Margarita – The Basics | © QVCtv / YouTube

For the tequila-heavy and citrusy potion, you can follow this simple enough recipe:

Pour tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice into a cocktail shaker, along with a handful of ice cubes. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds, and then strain the drink into a margarita glass. 

There are several ways to salt the rim. The general one is to dampen the edges with water and then dip into salt. You could also opt for special techniques that preserve the authentic essence of the Margarita, such as running a notched lime around the rim of the glass before dipping it into a bowl of salt. 

Now that you know enough about the Mexican cocktail, why not try your hand at it? If there’s ever a drink to make at home, this is definitely it.

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