Hoist a Low Cool One for National Margarita Day

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I’ve never for the life of me understood why they chose a day in the dead of winter to celebrate this most tropical of cocktails, but Feb. 22 was long ago decreed as National Margarita Day.

The classic margarita, should you plan to serve up a batch later on, is made with 3 ounces of tequila, 2 ounces of freshly squeezed lime juice (there is no compromising on freshness here!), 1 teaspoon of orange liqueur, and 1 ounce of simple syrup (made by dissolving sugar and water in equal parts over a medium flame until the mixture boils and appears clear: allow to cool before using). Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with three or four ice cubes and shake until thoroughly blended and chilled. Although some recipes advocate using any glass, the preferred vessel is the “margarita glass” (shown above).

A Brief History of the Margarita

As with just about every other invention, gustatory and otherwise, there are competing claims about how and when the margarita came into being. The most popular story is that the drink was first conceived pf in 1938 by Carlos “Danny” Herrera at his restaurant Rancho La Gloria, halfway between Tijuana and Rosarito, Baja California. Supposedly the cocktail was created for customer and former Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King, who was allergic to many spirits but not to tequila.

The 1937 edition of the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book contains a recipe for a drink called a “Picador,” which used the same ingredients in the same amounts.

A third account is provided by cocktail historian David Wondrich, who notes that the margarita is related to a Mexican drink known as the “Daisy” — the English translation of the Spanish margarita — which features brandy in place of tequila. According to Wondrich, the margarita as we know it became popular during Prohibition as U.S. residents traveled to Mexico for alcohol. An account by Iowa newspaper editor James Graham suggests the cocktail was available in Tijuana as early as 1936.