Margarita's Story

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The margarita is one of the most popular drinks served in the United States today. There are several claims to the invention of the margarita, but the most known creation belongs to Margaret “Margarita” Sames. She was a Dallas socialite of the 1940s who enjoyed serving the drink at her parties. It all began in 1948 during a Christmas party Sames was hosting at a vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico when she decided to mix tequila, Cointreau and lime juice.

According to a 1994 interview in the San Antonio News-Express, Sames and her husband invited friends from Dallas to visit during the holidays for a warm celebration. The vacation home where they were staying had a luxurious pool with a swimming bar, so Sames wanted to make a mixed drink that would be a refreshing beverage for everyone to relax poolside before lunch. “After all, a person can only drink so many beers or so many Bloody Marys, or screwdrivers or whatever,” she said. “I wanted to make up a new drink (1).”

Sames decided to mix her favorite liquor, tequila with the orange-based Cointreau liqueur to form the only known tequila mixed drink ever created at the time. During the 1940s, the only way to drink tequila was chilled, straight up in a shot glass with salt and a slice of lime.

Sames’ first attempts at making the margarita were unsuccessful. “I was pushed into the swimming pool quite a few times because some of those drinks were so bad,” she said. Some mixtures were too sweet and some too tart. Sames finally found a combination using lime juice to balance the tequila and liqueur brushed off with a salted rim (1).

She served the popular drink at her parties over the years referring to it as “The Drink” or “Margarita’s Drink.” The cocktail’s final name stems from a set of “Margarita” etched champagne glasses given to Sames as a gift. The margarita recipe was shared by Sames’ friends and guests including Hotel Bel-Air owner Joseph Drown, movie stars John Wayne and Lana Turner and hotel owner Nick Hilton. The popularity of the drink rapidly spread after they began serving the “Margarita” drink at their hotels and restaurants around the U.S (1).

Copyright © 2009 Natalie Ryan