Five Things You Didn't Know About Margaritas

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Today is National Margarita Day, a made-up holiday so food critics like myself can do listicles like these and ensure more readers will click through our posts to read regurgitated facts like how the margarita is the nation's most popular cocktail (somewhat true) to that Emiliano Zapata invented the margarita (huh?). However, this one is different: you'll actually learn things you probably don't know about margaritas, because I've been researching the drink for the past couple of years for my Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America book (out April 10!). Anyhoo, the listicle.
1. No Mexican Foodstuff has More Origin Stories Surrounding It...
Zapata: Invented the margarita?

No one knows for certain who invented the margarita, and each telling of the tale gets more ludicrous. I've heard everything from a bartender inventing the drink after a chica caliente named Margarita or Margaret who was--take your pick--a socialite, call girl, or ambassador's daughter to--crazy!--Rita Hayworth (real name Margarita Cansino) to--crazier!--Peggy Lee. A likelier case is to be made that the margarita came from the Tequila Daisy, a borderlands cocktail concocted during Prohibition, because "margarita" is "daisy" in Spanish. More stories? Invented in Dallas, invented in Los Angeles, in San Antonio or Galveston, or invented by Emiliano Zapata to conquer wimpy Yankees once and for all...

2. ...But The Originator of the Frozen Margarita Machine is Undisputed
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Martinez, in a photo from the 1970s, at Mariano's

That man is Mariano Martinez, who gets nearly an entire chapter devoted to him in my book. His story is somewhat known, but it's an inspirational, hilarious story--truly one of the most down-to-earth celebrities I've ever had the pleasure of interviewing. You'll have to wait for my book for the whole story--or, better yet, go visit his restaurants in Dallas, where the first frozen margarita machine operated for decades until being donated to the Smithsonian a couple of years back. Short story: Martinez invented the machine at his Mariano's Restaurant in 1971 to head off a mutiny by his bartenders. Long story? Read the book!

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