The celebrity name dropping that surrounds the Margarita is fairly impressive. The one name that most stories point to is Margarita Sames, who invented the drink at a party in late 1948. It is said that a Hilton was at the party, which is how it ended up on the menu of that hotel chain in the 1950's. There is always some star floating the the background of most of the tales, either an icon of business or a Hollywood star. It is said by Dale DeGroff that Bing Crosby loved it so much he started importing Herradura into the country so he could make his own at parties. DeGroff also casually mentions (both of these comments in his book "The Essential Cocktail", p. 86) that there was a Tequila Daisy on the menu in a Tijuana casino in the 1920's. It used lemon juice instead of lime, but the concept in general is the same.
Do you remember the Daisy? It was explored on Day 10, and mentioned that Jerry Thomas used orange liqueur for the sweetening agent in his version of the drink. Thus the idea of the Margarita could be traced there, just without the soda water added to it. One other theory on the naming of the drink has to do with the English to Spanish translation of "Daisy". It comes out as "la margarita". So either someone clever or someone that was a Spanish speaker may have ordered this in the native language of the spirit's homeland. The history of the cocktail is murky (at best), but the cocktail itself is delightfully clean.
2 oz./ 60 mL silver (Blanco) tequila
1 oz./ 30 mL orange liqueur
1 oz./ 30 mL lime juice
Garnish: Lime wheel or wedge and salt
Ice: None, but can be added if you want a blended cocktail
Pour the ingredients into a mixing tin over ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into a prepared margarita glass. Add the lime garnish and serve.
To prepare the glass: Take a lime quarter and delicately run it around the outside of the rim of the glass to moisten. Gently dip and press the wet edge into salt on a plate, until the rim is covered to your satisfaction. Turn the glass over and tap off the excess salt.
I am not, in any way, a fan of the salted rim. I would not use that much if I was drinking it, but I can see the appeal. A little salt will open the taste buds and bring out some of the flavor of the drink. In The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan, he suggests leaving the garnish off to not tempt people to throw off the balance of the cocktail. Like the Daiquiri, I love the balance of this cocktail. Just the right amount of sweet and tart, with peppery tequila notes thrown in for good measure. Using the fresh stuff is key; stay away from pre-made mixers. If you want to make it a blended drink, mix in half a cup of ice and blend. If it is not icy enough, add a half a cup more. You don't need Cinco de Mayo to enjoy this tasty treat.