With Cinco de Mayo at our doorstep, it’s important to consider the history of this holiday and a popular drink used to celebrate it—a margarita. Cinco de Mayo itself is not when Mexico gained its independence, it is actually the day that Mexico defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Consider that a two-for-one in this history lesson. The story of the margarita, however, begins a little later in the late 1930 and early 1940s.
With a drink as legendary as the margarita, it’s no surprise that many people claim to have invented it, a couple of the more prevailing theories, include Carlos “Danny” Herrera and Margarita Sames, according to a 2009 Smithsonian article. In 1938, Carlos was serving an aspiring actress, Marjorie King, in his Tijuana-based establishment and struggling to get her to enjoy tequila. Using a little bit of inspiration from the traditional way to take a shot of tequila, he incorporated a lick of salt and lime juice to make it a more refreshing drink. The next origin story takes place ten years later in 1948 and a little further north in Dallas, Texas. Local socialite, Margarita Sames claims that she whipped up the concoction for her friends in her vacation home, among which was Tommy Hilton who later added it to the menu at his hotel chain. However, the first importer of Jose Cuervo in the U.S. ran an ad saying “Margarita, it’s more than just a name” in 1945, three years before Sames had purported to make the drink.
Since its inception, the margarita has worked its way into an integral part of American culture. They’ve been made with every fruit one could imagine, from mangoes to strawberries to passion fruit. It has its own anthem in Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville.” The margarita has invaded the U.S. from sea to shining sea, so this Cinco de Mayo make sure to get your margarita on. (Only if you’re of legal age, of course).
The simplest recipes include:
- Tequila (2 oz)
- Lemon/lime juice (1 of each)
- Simple syrup/agave (1 oz)
- Salt the rim of your preferred glass
- Mix the tequila, juice, and agave/simple syrup
- Pour over ice in the salted glass, enjoy!
Whether you decide to go the homemade route, or if you just want to buy a mix from the store this Cinco, know that you’re drinking one of the most iconic drinks in American and Mexican history. Be safe, and have fun!