With illustrations by W. Scott Koenig

Bar Andaluz Margarita

1940 to 1950

"It's just like a daisy, only in Spanish!"

Perhaps the most common origin story is that Carlos (Danny) Herrera of Tijuana’s Rancho La Gloria restaurant invented it for Ziegfeld showgirl Marjorie King because she said tequila was the only hard liquor she could abide. He mixed her tequila with lime juice and named the cocktail after her. Another version of the story is set not in Tijuana but in Ensenada’s Bar Andaluz with King cast as the owner.

Was Rita Hayworth, whose real name is Margarita Casino, the inspiration behind the infamous cocktail we can't get enough of?

The star of another popular story is Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth (whose real name was Margarita Casino) for whom the first Margarita was both mixed and named during a Tijuana gig at the Agua Caliente racetrack in the 1940s.

Hussong's Margarita.

Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada also claims the Margarita. In 1941, Hussong’s bartender Don Carlos Orozco supposedly mixed it for Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico. There are various versions of this same story set elsewhere.

The most likely story is that the Margarita was created as a variation of a pre-existing cocktail—the Brandy Daisy—with tequila replacing the brandy in the original. The English word daisy translates to Spanish as margarita and other than the liquor, the two recipes are nearly identical.

1950s to 1970s

"It's just like a real Margarita only frozen!"

Much like the origin of the Margarita itself, no one knows who first put a Margarita and ice in a blender. Most guesses place that origin squarely in the 1950s. But the story of when the Frozen Margarita became a thing is much clearer: 1971 in Dallas. Afraid of losing his bartender—or customers due to inconsistent Margaritas and inspired by the 7-Eleven Slurpee—Mariano Martinez created the first Frozen Margarita machine. Problems solved.

The frozen Margarita.

In 2005 the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC acquired Martinez’s original Frozen Margarita Machine. It remains in the Museum’s collection today.

Mezcal and Mango Margarita (recipe below).


"It's just like a margarita but all grown up!"

The Margarita is the face that launched a thousand variations even if we don’t know whose face inspired the drink. Modern mixologists use different liquors (like smoky mezcal in the place of tequila), sweeteners (like agave syrup, fruit juices, or even grilled fruit), rim salts (perhaps including chiles), and create even more exotic variations.

Must be 21+ to consume alcohol. Please drink responsibly.

Original Hussong’s Cantina Margarita Recipe

(full recipe here)

1 key lime, quartered
1 ounce good quality white tequila
1 ounce Damiana liqueur (or, if you must, Controy, Cointreau, or other orange liqueur)
1 ounce freshly squeezed key lime juice
Ice cubes
Lime peel for garnish

Pour salt onto a small plate. Moisten the rim of a large margarita glass with a quarter of lime and dip the edge into the salt. Pour the tequila, liqueur, and lime juice into a shaker, fill with ice cubes and cover to shake until the liquid is ice cold, about 1⁄2 minute.

Pour in glass and garnish the rim with lime peel.

Brandy Daisy Recipe

(full recipe here)

2 ounces brandy
1 ounce fresh
lemon juice
1 teaspoon
simple syrup
1⁄3 ounce grenadine
Seasonal fruit garnish

Combine the brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup, and grenadine in a shaker. Fill the shaker with ice cubes and shake until the liquid is ice cold, about 1⁄2 minute. Garnish the rim of the glass with lime peel.

Mezcal and Mango Margarita Recipe

(full recipe here)

3⁄4 cup Oaxacan Mezcal
3⁄4 cup mango juice
1⁄4 cup lime juice
1⁄4 cup Cointreau
Kosher salt
1 mango, sliced
Lime peel, julienned

Combine the mezcal, juices, and Cointreau in a shaker. Fill the shaker with ice cubes and cover to shake until the liquid is ice cold, about 1⁄2 minute. Rub glass rim with used, squeezed limes and dip into a plate of salt. Garnish the glass with a slice of mango and 1 or more strips of lime peel.

Read more about tequila and mezcal with these great Edible San Diego exclusive stories.

The Story of Tequila & How to Drink it

In Southern California and Northern Mexico, tequila is the craft spirit with the deepest roots.

Demystifying Mezcal, the Original Agave Liquor

Mezcal is a delicious celebration of over 50 agave varieties spread over nine Mexican states.

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About the Contributor
Michael Aaron Gardiner
Michael Gardiner is the author of Modern Kosher: Global Flavors, New Traditions (Rizzoli, 2020) and Cali-Baja Cuisine: Ensenada Aguachiles, Tijuana Taco Stands and San Diego Cali Burritos (Rizzoli, September 2023). He is a regular food feature writer for Edible San Diego and The San Diego Union-Tribune, contributing editor for The Cook’s Cook, and freelanced for Tasting Table,Thrillist, and other publications. Gardiner was the long-time weekly restaurant reviewer for San Diego CityBeat before its closure in 2020. Gardiner has won San Diego Press Club awards every year since 2018.