Margarita Loca: The history of America’s favourite cocktail

Margarita Loca: The history of America’s favourite cocktail

Ella Canta’s Classic Margarita

40ml Tequila
20ml Cointreau orange liqueur
20ml fresh lime juice

Prepare your glass by running a wedge of lime around half of the rim and dip into salt
Combine the Tequila, Cointreau and lime juice in a cocktail shaker
Add a handful of ice cubes
Close and share vigorously for 10-15 seconds
Strain into an elegant glass
Add a slice of lime to garnish


No one knows for sure the origin of the most ordered cocktail in America but, like many a sultry tale, there’s a good chance that it involved a barman and a beautiful woman.

 In a tale of two Mexican ‘Danny’s’ one, Daniel (Danny) Negrete, manager of Garci Crespo Hotel in Puebla, claims to have concocted the drink in 1936 for his girlfriend, Margarita, who liked salt in her drinks. Another Carlos ‘Danny’ Herrera of Rancho La Gloria bar in Rosarito held that is was his creation for the actress Marjorie King who was allergic to all alcohols but tequila, naming it Margarita, the Spanish for Marjorie.

 Others trace the cocktail back to more glittering roots suggesting that it was first offered to the most glamorous screen idol of the 1940s Margarita ‘Rita’ Hayworth aka The Love Goddess by a innovative barman in a theatre in Tijuana.

 Like many a good story, there are plenty who are keen to lay claim to its existence but one final impromptu mixologist worth mentioning is the vivacious Texan socialite Margaret Sames. She was rumoured to have whipped one up at a house party in Acapulco in 1948 after running out of rum for frozen daiquiris to the delight of Nick Hilton who popularised the creation with aplomb via his hotel chain.

While skeptics argue that the drink was simply a natural progression from the already popular Daisy, a cocktail made from lime, grenadine and spirit of choice, an American influence is likely as Mexicans were known to drink their tequila straight and even today it would be unlikely to find anyone other than tourists drinking margaritas in the land of the agave.

 If you thought the streets of Mexico were lined with this salt-rimmed sharpener you’d be wrong, but since the 1940s cocktails have hugely increased in popularity. Across Mexico’s thriving metropolitan cities you’ll find low-lit cocktail bars filled with beautiful people and you can expect to pick up a world-class marg. But forget the blender because purist Mexican mixologists scorn the frozen slushy peddled by the Tex-Mex restaurants north of the border. The traditional margarita is always chilled but never frozen.   

 Regardless of its origin, it’s the first print mention in Esquire magazine in 1953 that sums up the true essence of the irresistible Margarita:

 ‘She’s from Mexico and she is lovely to look at, exciting and provocative’