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Cinco de Mayo & the Roots of the Margarita

This afternoon, the offices around North Texas will clear out early and the patios of restaurants and bars will begin filling with the annual celebration of Cinco de Mayo. But before you go out and toast to North Texas’ deep Mexican heritage, let’s learn more about the holiday and our region’s tie to its signature drink: the frozen margarita.

Cinco de Mayo (that’s May 5th for you gringos) commemorates Mexico’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. While the holiday is not celebrated as Mexican Independence Day (September 16) it is a day honoring Mexican culture and pride across Mexico, the United States and even overseas.

In Winsor, Ontario, the Canadian city holds a Cinco de Mayo Street Festival with Mexican music, food and drinks. A sky-diving club near Vancouver, British Columbia holds a Cinco de Mayo skydiving event. The Cayman Islands holds an annual Cinco de Mayo air guitar competition. Celebrations are also held in Brisbane, Australia; London, England; Paris; France (and probably Paris, Texas, too); and across New Zealand. And, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Tokyo, Japan as a celebration of all the Americas along with the Mexican culture.

But what about the official drink, the margarita?

Although the adult beverage has become the iconic drink for all things Mexico, the roots of the Margarita are tied its neighbor to the North, Texas. And, there’s as much debate as to who invented the margarita as there is to the debate of frozen versus on the rocks. According to the Smithsonian, there are a few contenders to who made the first mix. One story is that Carlos “Danny” Herrera developed the drink at his Tijuana-area restaurant. Another contender – and one with a local tie – is Margarita Sames, a wealthy Dallas socialite who claimed she whipped up the drink for friends at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948.

And while the cocktail’s origin is a bit tipsy, the machine that added a question to the lips of bartenders around the world was invented in 1971 right here in Dallas. The frozen margarita machine, invented by Dallas restauranteur Mariano Martinez, was acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 2005.

We’ll drink to that!




SOURCE: The Smithsonian Institute

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