The Wine Connoisseur: The Margarita — a classic cocktail with many stories

The Wine Connoisseur: The Margarita — a classic cocktail with many stories

Bob Lipinski

By Bob Lipinski

“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.”  — George Carlin

There are many stories as to the origin of the Margarita cocktail. One story states that Danny Negrete, the manager at the Garci Crespo Hotel in Puebla, Mexico, created it for his girlfriend in 1936. Others believe it was created in 1938 in Rosarito Beach, Tijuana and named after showgirl Marjorie King, who was allergic to many distilled spirits except tequila. Danny (Carlos) Herrera, the bartender, kept inventing new and exciting ways to serve tequila so Marjorie would not be bored.

Another story has it created by a Virginia City bartender in memory of his girlfriend who was accidentally shot during a barroom brawl. A further legend places the birth of this cocktail in Hollywood in the 1940s by Enrique Bastante Gutierrez, a former cocktail champion who mixed drinks for some of the world’s most famous film stars. Actress Rita Hayworth (whose real name was Margarita Carmen Cansino) was one of his loyal customers and he invented the drink especially for her.

Another version of its origin has the cocktail made by bartender Don Carlos Orozco at Hussong’s Cantina, in Ensenada, Mexico, who named it after his girlfriend. Yet another story takes place on July 4, 1942, in Juárez, Mexico, where Francisco “Pancho” Morales, a bartender in Tommy’s Place, a favorite hangout for GIs from Fort Bliss, concocted the cocktail. According to Pancho, a woman entered the premises and ordered a cocktail called a Magnolia. He didn’t know the ingredients, so he whipped together his own version of a Magnolia and called it a Margarita, Spanish for daisy. 

The most plausible version has the Margarita created in 1948 in Acapulco, Mexico, by a San Antonio, Texas socialite Margarita Sames. To impress Nicky Hilton, of the Hilton Hotel family, she mixed three parts tequila, two parts Cointreau, and one-part lime juice.


Yield: Makes one cocktail


1-1/2 ounces tequila

1-ounce triple sec liqueur (minimum 60 proof)

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime (or lemon juice)

coarse salt for the rim of the glass

crushed ice

slice of lemon as a garnish


Either shake the ingredients or put into a blender.  Then, take a wide-brim glass and place it upside down in a small bowl containing lemon or lime juice and then into another bowl that contains salt to a depth of ¼-inch, which leaves a thin layer on the rim of the glass. Fill the glass and garnish with lime or lemon slice and serve.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].