Margarita Day 2024: The History Behind The Cocktail

Made with tequila, the iconic Margarita is the drink of celebration across the world. On Margarita Day, here's a look at the many stories behind this classic cocktail
February 22 is celebrated as Margarita Day every year
February 22 is celebrated as Margarita Day every yearShutterstock

The Martini has been celebrated in Bond films, and the Cosmopolitan in the Sex and the City series. Unlike other iconic cocktails, the Margarita has no film or TV show attached as a pop culture memory. The memorable one is in the film Practical Magic where the 'witches' rustle up margaritas in a blender. But the classic cocktail with origins in Mexico continues to rule over bars and everyone's imaginations. With a refreshing blend of tequila, fresh lime, and triple sec, margaritas balance out the sour, sweet, and salty. It represents the umami flavours of the drinks world. Here's a look at the stories behind the Margarita.

The Origin Stories

IIt is difficult to pinpoint the exact date when the Margarita was invented. The cocktail has most likely evolved over time, rather than having a single origin. However, because people enjoy making up interesting stories about these things, there are popular origin stories for the Margarita as well. According to one story, it was first created in a bar near the Mexico/US border (Juarez or Tijuana). Margarita is the Spanish word for daisy, and legend has it that a bar owner invented the drink for a local showgirl because he couldn't remember how to make the 'Magnolia' cocktail she had requested. After adding tequila, he named the new concoction after the daisy, which is 'margarita' in Spanish. Another origin story states that it was created in a restaurant between Tijuana and Rosarito for former Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King, who was allergic to all liquors except tequila.

What Makes A Margarita

The iconic drink consists of tequila, orange liquer (Cointreau is said to be the best choice, failing which use Grand Marnier or Triple Sec), fresh lime, and salt. Tequila is a distilled beverage made from blue agave plants grown in Tequila, a Mexican town in the state of Jalisco. Sometimes bartenders replace the traditional orange liqueur with agave nectar.

Farmer on his horse walking through agave fields in Jalisco, Mexico
Farmer on his horse walking through agave fields in Jalisco, MexicoJesus Cervantes/Shutterstock

The Shape Of You

The glass in which the beverage is delivered is just as iconic as the cocktail itself. A Margarita glass has a large curved bowl on top with a wide rim for optional salting. Many glass specialists believe the shape is derived from the French champagne glass, or coupe.

The Margarita glass is as iconic as the cocktails
The Margarita glass is as iconic as the cocktailsShutterstock

The Celebratory Day

Most classic cocktails have a day attached to celebrate the drink. Every February 22, people gather to celebrate National Margarita Day in the US, an unofficial event honouring their favourite festive cocktail which has always been associated with special occasions. The Margarita is commonly regarded as the official drink of having fun.

Raise A Toast

Among the most expensive versions of the cocktail was the one created in February 2018 by Manhattan barman Marco Antonio. He rustled up the Silk Stocking Margarita to honour the Margarita's unofficial 70th birthday (and National Tequila Day). The cocktail featured Clase Azul Ultra añejo tequila, priced at $1,500 per bottle, and the Mexican-salt-rimmed glass cost $2,500.

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