Make Mine a Margarita

T Updated

Ah, the drinks of summer!

One of the many advantages of California living is that summer cocktails are appealing all year long — it's hard to imagine sipping a frozen daiquiri during a Minnesota spring snowstorm.

A classic chilled cocktail that has been a favorite for more than 50 years is the margarita, a tart and tangy concoction that last year Gourmet magazine named the most popular cocktail in America. Margaritas have inspired songs, festivals and legends, beginning with the origin of the drink itself.

Margarita who?

It's certain that margaritas were invented in Mexico, home of tequila, and that the recipe called for fresh lime juice, tequila and an orange liqueur such as triple sec or Cointreau. But the absolute source of this sassy cocktail is unresolved.

One of the oldest stories credits a Puebla hotel owner named Danny Negrete for inventing the drink, named after his girlfriend, in 1936. A 1938 account features restaurateur Carlos Herrera, who purportedly whipped up the cocktail in Rosarito Beach for Marjorie King, a showgirl/actress who was allergic to alcohol — except tequila. Still another version suggests the drink was named for the daisy, or "margarita," in Spanish. The name also means "pearl" in Latin.

The person garnering the greatest notice for the cocktail's invention was Texas socialite Margaret Sames, who demonstrated making a margarita on the "Today Show" in 1982; Sames claimed to have first concocted the drink at her Acapulco house in 1948.

For many Americans, "margarita" means gold-colored tequila combined with ice and green limeade mix, all blended to a thick slush.

Not for Paul Brennan. For the last dozen years, he has been the manager and tequila buyer for Tortilla Flats in Soquel. Although this authentic little Mexican restaurant offers excellent fancy-fruit frozen margaritas, it also stocks about 40 fine tequilas for sipping and making top-shelf margaritas.

Cheryl Marquez, Tortilla Flats' friendly owner, invited me to join her at the restaurant's colorful bar recently. Watching Paul set up flights of tequilas samplers, we talked about pairing food [other than Mexican] with margaritas.

"Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese, goes beautifully with tequila drinks," said Cheryl. "And citrus-based sauces — sweet and spicy, with complex flavors" She also suggested seafood to complement margaritas. On cue, a server brought a plate of coconut-breaded shrimp with citrus-chipotle dip.

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Source: Santa Cruz Sentinal
by Ann Parker

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