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HomeLifestyleFood & RecipesNo, the Jimmy Buffett song is not how margaritas were invented

No, the Jimmy Buffett song is not how margaritas were invented

A margarita’s like the kind of fun, drunk stranger that you meet on holiday. They’re a loud, boisterous, tropical-shirt wearing bacchant who happily infiltrates your friendship group for the night. They bring lighthearted, come one, come all fun but no one exactly knows where they came from. No reason to ask too many questions when the good times are rolling anyway.

National Margarita Day shows how the amusing cocktail has earned its legions of fans. Long cherished for their low maintenance shareability and stimulating taste, margaritas can pull an easygoing nature out of all who indulge. It’s the perfect cocktail for both those pregaming for a raucous night out and those in need of a relaxing afternoon at the beach. Key West icon Jimmy Buffett may have cemented the margarita’s place in western pop culture as his notoriously touristy drink of choice, but the true origin of the tropical cocktail is much harder to pinpoint.

“We know that people started drinking ‘daisies’ (daisy is Spanish for margarita) during the early 1930s,” Gian Luca Pavanello Canella, UK brand ambassador for tequila brand Patrón, tells me.

Indeed, a 1937 precursor to the margarita, called the “picador”, was included in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, a collection of cocktail recipes compiled by William J Tarling back when daisies were popular fare. The picador recipe calls for tequila, lime juice and Cointreau, but leaves out the fourth traditional ingredient: a salted rim.

Additionally, it’s known that the margarita genesis probably occurred along the American-Mexican border sometime before the halfway mark of the 20th century and most accounts involve an entertaining woman named Margartia, or some iteration. Other than that, all aspects of the margarita origin story are still up for debate.

Danny Herrera, an early resident of Tijuana and salted margarita rim enthusiast, made a name for himself as the famed inventor of the drink. As Herrera’s story goes, a Ziegfeld showgirl named Majorie King came into his restaurant, Rancho La Gloria, in 1938 complaining about how she was allergic to every liquor other than tequila, but she couldn’t stand to drink the stuff plain. In an effort to impress King, Herrera fixed up a tequila-based cocktail that he named Margarita, the Spanish version of Majorie. In 1991 the LA Times profiled Herrera before the San Diego Reader published a rebuttal article that sought to debunk Herrera’s margarita story the very next year.

That 1992 San Diego Reader piece is far from the only account that disputes Herrera.

Jose Cuervo alleges that margaritas were invented in 1938 to honour a different showgirl, Rita de la Rosa, by a different, unnamed bartender. Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, advertises itself as the 1941 birthplace of the margarita, with a narrative centering on a bartender named Don Carlos Orozco, who was inspired by a German ambassador’s daughter named Margarita Henkel. Notimex, Mexico’s official news agency, has formally credited Francisco “Mancho” Morales with crafting the first margarita in 1942 at Tommy’s Place Bar in Ciudad Juárez. Travel to Galveston, Texas, and you’ll hear the tale of head bartender Santos Cruz, who named the first-ever margarita in 1948 while serving the famous American jazz singer Peggy “Margaret” Lee.

One of the later and less-credible margarita conceptions happened in 1948 when a Dallas socialite named Margarita Sames served margaritas to guests at her vacation house in Acapulco. Considering Jose Cuervo had already been advertising margaritas for three years at the time of Sames’ fable, it is impossible that she was the recipe’s progenitor. However, she did introduce margaritas to Tommy Hilton, as in Hilton Hotels and Resorts, who popularised the drink by serving it at his properties, eventually leading to a 1953 Esquire margarita recipe that catalysed the libation’s cultural ascent. That 1953 four-ingredient recipe (five if you count the ice) may not be the first margarita on record but it did kickstart an era in which margarita admirers stopped claiming to invent the drink and started to remix it.

Nowadays, margaritas come in slushy form, with sugar rims, non-lime fruits or with any number of other adjustments. Some may describe these new modifications as bastardisations, but it’s undeniable that the variety of well-known takes on the otherwise simple drink speaks to its ubiquity. Perhaps margaritas have cast such a large tent because they’re crowd pleasers, they’re for the masses and the classes. In the end, it may not even matter where exactly margaritas even began their rise to fame because only one thing is for certain this National Margarita Day; whether your margarita comes from a blender, friend or a bartender, it comes without pretense and it comes from a good time. So just sit back, relax and take a sip.

Celebrate the margarita’s storied history with these two recipes:

Classic Patrón Margarita

Teach your tastebuds about the margarita’s mythical history with this 1930s-inspired recipe

(Greg Macvean Photography)

The classic Patrón Margarita is refreshing and super easy to make. Served on the rocks, this homemade margarita recipe with fresh ingredients is timeless.


45ml PATRÓN Silver

30ml Citrónge Orange Liqueur

22..5ml fresh lime juice

7.5ml simple syrup

lime wedge for garnish

kosher salt (optional)


Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Strain onto fresh ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a lime wedge. Optionally, salt half the rim of the glass with salt.

The Margarita Daisy

By: Patrón’s Perfectionists’ 2021 UK winner Kat Stanley from Uno Mas

This take on the 1930s Margarita Daisy combines the elegance of peach liqueur with the caramel oakiness of Patrón Reposado tequila, with a herbal finish reminiscent of the popular dishes of the era.


30ml PATRÓN Reposado

15ml Crème De Pêche

15ml Yellow Chartreuse

12.5ml Supasawa

10ml bergamot syrup

3 drops orange blossom (2ml)

2 drops chocolate bitters

5ml water


Stir ingredients in a shaker and strain into a rocks glass over a large block of ice. Garnish with citrus salt (dehydrated lemon and orange muddled until fine with sea salt).

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