Margaritas have always been an essential part of Santa Fe’s gastronomical scene. Tequila made its way to the United States as an import from Mexico. It debuted in Santa Fe via the Camino Real, the colonial-era stretch of 1,200 miles between Santa Fe and Mexico City.
According to legend, tequila has its origins in the tale of the Aztec God, Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl was so overcome with grief over the death of Mayahuel (the Aztec goddess of fertility) that he drank pulque, fermented agave juice, from the plant that grew from her grave to drown his sorrows. Pulque was a popular pre-colonial drink. When the Spaniards arrived, they brought the process of distillation with them. They distilled pulque to create tequila.
The margarita has its own colorful origin stories. Fast forward 400 years, when a Mexican restaurant owner supposedly created the margarita in the 1940s for a showgirl named Marjorie King, who was allergic to every form of alcohol except tequila – but hated the taste.
A different Tijuana bartender is said to have invented the drink in the 1930s for Rita Hayworth, who entertained audiences as a teenager at the Agua Caliente Racetrack. Yet another version claims that Dallas socialite Margaret Sames invented the drink in 1948, with the recipe picked up by hotel baron Tommy Hilton and featured at his hotels.
An entirely different version claims that margarita evolved from “The Daisy” – a concoction of multiple types of alcohol, citrus juice, grenadine, and a splash of soda, all poured over shaved ice. Not coincidentally, margarita is Spanish for daisy.
What is not in dispute is that a traditional margarita follows a simple 3-2-1 formula: 3 parts tequila, 2 parts triple sec (orange liqueur), and 1 part fresh lime juice. Salted rims of the margarita glass are optional.
Tourism Santa Fe launched the Margarita Trail on Cinco de Mayo in 2016, in partnership with local restaurants and bars offering various versions of the margarita. TrailParticipants can enjoy a wide variety of margaritas and earn stamps for sampling margaritas at each stop.
The next time you enjoy a margarita, make a toast to New Mexico and Santa Fe. Better yet, put a stop at Joe’s Tequila Bar at the Inn on the Alameda on your agenda as part of any visit to the Land of Enchantment. Joe’s features an extensive selection of wine, beer, and spirits, including tequilas for both traditional and adventurous palates. Enjoy a drink with us.