Behind the Drink: The Margarita

Tequila Daisy - History of the Margarita

In the summer of 1936, James Graham, owner and editor of the Moville, Iowa, Mail, took his wife to southern California for a bit of sightseeing. While there, as many do, the Grahams took a little side jaunt to Tijuana, Mexico, where—again, as many do—they found themselves in the grip of a sudden thirst for something alcoholic. Four years earlier, the choice of drinking establishments would have been a tough one: during Prohibition, Tijuana had some 150 of them. But in 1936, with Americans fully able to tipple at home, the city was down to a mere nine or ten bars. An Irishman by the name of Madden ran one of the survivors, and that’s where the Iowans headed. The couple’s taxi driver had mentioned Madden’s drink-mixing skills and told them of his fame as the creator of a thing known as the “Tequila Daisy.”

“As a newspaperman seeking information,” Graham wrote in the lengthy report of his trip that he ran in his paper (bear in mind that Moville had a population of around 975), “I entered the joint and told Mr. Madden my curiosity was aroused regarding The Daisy.” Mr. Madden was not the most talkative of men, but eventually he was persuaded to admit that the drink’s creation was a mistake. “In mixing a drink, I grabbed the wrong bottle and the customer was so delighted that he called for another and spread the good news far and wide.”

Why are we bothering with Iowa newspapermen and Irish barkeepers on Cinco de Mayo? Because, you see, the word for “daisy” in Spanish is “margarita,” and there are few cocktails more popular than the Margarita, or more obscure in their origin. Graham never said what was in Madden’s Daisy, or (truth be told) ever actually admitted to trying one. But if you take a Brandy Daisy, a standard bar drink of the pre-Prohibition era, and accidentally reach for the tequila instead of the brandy—well, you be the judge.

Tequila Daisy

Contributed by: David Wondrich

INGREDIENTS:

  • .5 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .5 tsp Superfine sugar
  • 2 oz Partida Reposado Tequila
  • .5 oz Grand Marnier
  • Seltzer
  • Glass: Cocktail

PREPARATION:

In a cocktail shaker, stir together .5 oz fresh lemon juice and .5 teaspoon superfine sugar. Add 2 oz Partida Reposado Tequila and .5 oz Grand Marnier. Fill with ice, shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with a small splash of seltzer.

David Wondrich is the author of the award-winning book Imbibe! and Esquire magazine’s Drinks Correspondent. He is also a Liquor.com advisor.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by michele, Smith & Vine and Abigail Gullo, Ladies Love LV. Ladies Love LV said: First margarita was called the TEQUILA DAISY! #cocktail http://liquor.com/articles/behind-the-drink-the-margarita/ [...]

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