The Margarita is the Most Popular Cocktail in the US

February 22nd marks National Margarita Day in the U.S. In honor of the holiday, let’s take a look at some fun facts and Trivia about this popular cocktail.

Written by

Brianna LeCompte

I still remember attending my first Trivia night back in 2013. A group of my coworkers were discussing some options for happy hour venues and when we saw that a spot down the street was hosting a Trivia Night, we decided to go for it. I was instantly hooked. When the opportunity arose to join the Last Call team, I was ecstatic. Working with a talented and creative team to spread my love of trivia across the country-what could be better! I currently manage sales and outreach in our west coast areas. Outside of work, I love to travel and am also an avid equestrian and Disney movie lover.

All Posts

Origin Of The Margarita

As is the case with many cocktails, the exact origin of the Margarita is up for debate. One of the most popular theories is that Carlos “Danny” Herrera created the drink at his Tijuana-area restaurant, Rancho La Gloria, around 1938. According to the story, Herrera developed the recipe for one of his customers, an aspiring actress named Marjorie King. King was allergic to all hard alcohol other than tequila, so Herrera combined the elements of a tequila shot into a refreshing cocktail that would meet her picky preferences.

 

Another person who has claimed to have invented the drink is Margarita Sames, a wealthy Dallas socialite. Sames said she first concocted the drink for her friends at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948. However, the timeline of her story does raise doubts. According to The Complete Book of Spirits, the first importer of Jose Cuervo in the U.S. advertised with the tagline, “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name,” in 1945. Since this was three years before Sames claimed to have invented the drink, it’s questionable whether she was the first to have coined the cocktail.

 

But despite the complicated history of the drink itself, there is one important element of the cocktail that can be pinpointed. The first frozen Margarita machine was invented in 1971 by Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez. Martinez was having trouble perfecting the drink as bartenders complained they took too long to make and customers thought the finished product melted too quickly. After being inspired by a 7-Eleven Slurpee machine, Martinez transformed a soft-serve ice cream machine into a Margarita machine. It was a huge success, and Martinez’s original machine now resides in the Smithsonian Museum.

Top Cocktail In America

While the origins of the drink are up for debate, the modern-day popularity of the Margarita is indisputable. According to a recent study by Nielsen, the Margarita is the most popular cocktail in the United States. The other drinks that rounded out the top five were the Martini, Old Fashioned, Mimosa, and Moscow Mule.

 

In addition to determining the most popular cocktail overall, Nielsen further analyzed the data to determine how the time of day impacts popularity. During the hours of 6:00 AM to noon, the top two spots unsurprisingly belong to common brunch staples – the Mimosa and the Bloody Mary. The Margarita came out on top in both the afternoon (noon-6:00 PM) and evening (6:00 PM-midnight) time slots. But in the late night slot (midnight-6:00 AM), it falls to third place behind the Martini and Long Island Iced Tea.

 

Nielsen also compared the data from six different major cities to see what impact geography had on drink orders. The Margarita took the top spot in five of the six cities included in the study – Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Tampa. However, it didn’t crack the top five drink list at all in the final city of Chicago. The most popular cocktails in Chicago were the Old Fashioned, Mimosa, Martini, Moscow Mule, and Manhattan.

Margarita Variations

The original recipe for the cocktail is simple and straightforward. It consists of just three ingredients – 1 oz Cointreau, 2 oz blanco tequila, and 1 oz fresh lime juice. The three ingredients are added to a shaker with ice and then strained into a salt-rimmed glass garnished with a lime wheel.

 

But as is the case with many other cocktails, there are also plenty of variations for those looking to branch out from a classic Margarita. One of the more popular spins on the traditional recipe is the Spicy Margarita. The recipe is similar to the original, with the addition of fresh jalapeños which are muddled in the shaker before adding the other ingredients. While some other variants stray farther from the traditional flavor profile, the Spicy Margarita maintains the classic mix of sweet, sour, and earthy tastes.

 

There are even ways to satisfy your craving outside of cocktail-form. A variety of non-alcoholic products are now available in Margarita flavor, including jelly beans, gummy bears, and water flavor enhancers.

Pop Quiz