Making Margaritas

Ever since singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet memorialized this citrus cocktail in his 1977 song on his album Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude, the cocktail known as the Margarita conjures up sandy beaches, laid back attitudes and fun in the sun.

Although the recipe is basically the same, amateur and professional bartenders tend to add their own variations on the tequila and citrus drink.

But who gets credit for making the first margarita?

That’s where the story of the margarita gets a little murky. One legend states that the first one was crafted October 1941, at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, by bartender Don Carlos Orozco.

Another prevalent story, courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine, is that the cocktail that inspired Buffet to write his iconic song was created by Carlos “Danny” Herrera at his Tijuana-area restaurant, Rancho La Gloria, around 1938.

This version claims that Herrera dreamed up the cocktail for one of his customers, an aspiring actress named Marjorie King who was allergic to all hard alcohol other than tequila. To make the liquor more palatable to his fussy client, he combined the elements of a traditional tequila shot—a lick of salt and a wedge of lime—and turned them into a refreshing drink.

And yet another claim to the invention of the drink that concurs up fun in the sun and sand between your toes is credited to Margarita Sames, a wealthy Dallas socialite who claimed she whipped up the drink for friends at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948. Among her well-connected guests was Tommy Hilton, who eventually added the drink to the bar menu at his hotel chain.
Whatever the origin of the margarita, it is difficult to deny that a concoction as simple as tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur has found its way not only into restaurants, people’s homes and has a permanent place in music history.
Want to make a margarita? There are infinite recipes for, as Jimmy Buffett so aptly sang, ‘that frozen concoction that makes me hang on”.

The Classic:


  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Salt for garnish


Combine tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Moisten rim of Margarita or other cocktail glass with lime juice or water. Holding glass upside down, dip rim into salt. Shake and strain drink into glass and serve.



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