Tequila is a city in Mexico (Jalisco state). It has a modest but proud population of 26,809. At 9pm every evening the city is given a blessing by the town’s parish priest. While the blessing is being given everyone in town turns off all potential distractions and stands. It is a beautiful and unique tradition but that is not what the city is best known for.
Tequila the city is best known for a variety of mezcal made purely or in part from the blue agave plant. Since the plant is native to the Tequila area the spirit was named in its honor. The use of blue agave dates all the way back to Mexico’s pre-Hispanic period. The indigenous people figured out how to use the heart to the plant to create a fermented alcoholic drink. They called the drink mezcal but it was nothing like the mezcal we know today. It was a milk-colored and viscous, similar to what we know today as Pulque.
When the Spanish arrived in Mexico they considered uprooting the blue agave and moving it to Spain but ultimately decided it would be best to keep it in its native land. Not content to keep the product as is, the Spanish thought they could improve the end result with distillation.
Demand for this new iteration of the drink was so high that large-scale distilleries had to be created as early as 1600 (some of those distilleries are still operating today). But it was not until 1873 that the drink being produced in the Jalisco region started to be called Tequila. Up until then it was referred to as “Mezcal Wine” and there was no way to distinguish it from the other mezcal spirits being produced.
In 1974 the Mexican government protected the name Tequila and made sure the name was going given to products distilled from the Tequila region and its surrounding municipalities (some parts of the Mexican State Tamaulipas are also included and are certified by the government for quality).
Enter the Tequila
Demand for Tequila, as we know it today, has boomed since the 1980s and for good reason. It is the main component in North America’s most popular cocktail… the margarita. The margarita has as many variations as it does stories of its origin. The word itself “Margarita” is Spanish for “daisy”.
In December 1953 Esquire published a Margarita recipe that called for one ounce of tequila, a dash or triple sec and half the juice of either a lemon or a lime. It was the first time a publication ever referred to a by the name we know today Margarita in print.
The exact origin story cannot be 100% authenticated but a commonly accepted version takes place in October 1941. In this story a bartender by the name of Don Carlos Orozco working at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico is said to be the inventor. Don Carlos offered the daughter of a German ambassador named “Margarita” a cocktail he had been experimenting with. The cocktail was served shaken and served over ice with a salt-rimmed glass and contained equal parts tequila, Mexican orange liqueur and lime. Since the name of the girl was “Margarita” Don Carlos decided to name the drink after her and a legend was born.
While that story certainly sounds plausible some give credit to a Dallas socialite named Margarita Sames. This legend has it that in 1948 Margarita served a cocktail she created to guests at her vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico. One of the guests was Tommy Hilton, who liked the cocktail so much he put it on the menu at the Hilton chain of hotels and named it after her. The only problem with that story was that three years earlier Jose Cuervo tequila ran an ad with the tag line “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name.” Jose Cuervo claims a bartender invented the Margarita in 1938 in honor of a Mexican showgirl named “Rita de la Rosa.”
Yet another version of the story claims the Margarita got its start at the Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas. That story claims that Santos Cruz, the head bartender there, created the Margarita for a singer named Peggy “Margaret” Lee. Instead of naming the cocktail the “Margaret” he chose to give it some Spanish flair and dubed it the Margarita.
In all three stories one detail remains the same… Women. While the time and place are up for debate the Margarita was most likely named after a woman somewhere. What’s not up for debate is the invention of the frozen margarita machine. Mariano Martinez invented the machine to make frozen margaritas in the early 70’s. A 7-Eleven Slurpee machine inspired the 26-year-old Dallas restaurateur to create something that would make frozen margaritas faster. He used a soft-serve ice cream machine and transformed it into a frozen margarita-making machine. What used to be a time consuming process was cut down to mere seconds. It was such a success that the machines quickly spread across the country.
Whatever the true origins or the margarita are one thing is for certain… At over 185,000 consumed PER HOUR (!!!) it is easily the most popular cocktail North America has ever known.
Let It Linger Margarita
2 oz Dobel Humito Tequila
1 oz Fresh lime juice
1/2 oz of agave
Muddled Fresno Chili (might not be Fresno)
Black Diamond Margarita
2 oz. Dobel Diamante Tequila
.5 oz. Agave Syrup
.5 oz. Fresh Lime
The Santa Rosa (Pictured)
Dobel Humito Tequila (or Diamanté)
Orange blossom water
Fever Tree soda.
Smoked Old Fashioned
1.5 oz. Maestro Dobel Humito
1 tsp Simple Syrup
1 Slice Orange Peel.