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Five Daisies for the Fifth of May


Cinco de Mayo (fifth of May for all you Yankees) is a day that many language-impaired gringos think is Mexican Independence Day. It is nothing of the sort. It celebrates the Mexican army defeat of the French army while outnumbered two-to-one, 100 miles east of Mexico City on May 5, 1862. A real holiday celebrating a victory deserves the truth about its national cocktail. Here are five great tales of the origin of the Margarita. All of them are true.

1. Margaret Sames of San Antonio, Texas (or maybe it was Dallas, the stories differ) was entertaining during Christmas in 1962 (or perhaps it was 1948) at their seaside (or cliffside, but could be poolside) villa in Acapulco and invented a drink for her socialite friends. She took a little Cointreau (a sweet French liquor), some Tequila, lime juice and added a salt rim to a Champagne glass. Her gringo friends loved the drink and within a few weeks, the drink was named by her husband, Bill—Margarita.

2. Between Tijuana and Rosarita Beach in 1930 there was a restaurant and hotel named Rancho La Gloria run by a man named Carlos 'Danny' Herrera and his wife. A young movie starlet named Marjorie King for some reason could stomach no alcohol except for tequila. He invented a sweet cocktail that used tequila and named it after the Spanish version of her name.

3. A bartender in Virginia City named the drink—made of 1.5 ounces of Tequila, .5 oz. of Cointreau, the juice of one lime shaken and strained over ice in a glass rimmed with Kosher salt—for his girlfriend who died in his arms after getting in the way of a bullet during a shooting.

4. A woman entered a bar in Juarez, Mexico one day in 1942. She ordered a Magnolia and Pancho Morales, the bartender, could not remember any ingredient in the cocktail except Cointreau. So he faked it and mixed in some other stuff. It was so well liked he named his new concoction the Spanish word for daisy.

5. The Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana boasts claims to the birthplace of the Margarita in 1930. They are sure of it and they're probably right.