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Where did margaritas get their start?

Posted 11:49am on Wednesday, Jun. 11, 2014

The inventor of the traditional margarita is in some dispute. Several people have taken credit for it, including Margarita Sames, a Dallas socialite who claimed to have made the drink for friends at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948, according to Smithsonian.com. The frozen version also has an unclear past.

The inventor of the frozen-margarita machine, however, is not in dispute: It’s Mariano Martinez, the namesake of Mariano’s Mexican Restaurant in Arlington, who was inspired to design the machine after watching a Slurpee machine at a 7-Eleven.

In the 1960s, Martinez’s father used to make margaritas in a blender at the family’s first Dallas restaurant, back when diners had to brown-bag their own hard liquor into restaurants, according to a column our Bud Kennedy wrote in 2005, when the original Mariano’s machine became part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

“People would come back from Mexico with a bottle of tequila and ask what to make with it,” Martinez told Kennedy at the time. “Before long, he would be making margaritas, the bottle would be empty, and everybody would be having a great time.”

Inspired by the Slurpee machines, Martinez came up with the idea of using a machine to make more consistent drinks faster. He wound up adapting a SaniServe ice cream dispenser.

That was on May 11, 1971. When Texas voters approved the sale of mixed drinks in 1972, Mariano’s was ready with frozen margaritas.

Back then, the recipe called for Cuervo or Sauza tequila and triple sec. The only change since then is that Martinez’s restaurants — which also include four La Hacienda Ranch locations in DFW (including one in Colleyville) and Mariano’s Hacienda in Dallas — now add Grand Marnier.

Martinez is often credited with being the inventor of the frozen margarita itself, but according to the National Museum of American History’s website, “Frozen margaritas have been around since the invention of the blender in the 1930s but bartenders were often overwhelmed when demand was high, and the blenders produced margaritas of varying quality and consistency.” Martinez’s machine solved the consistency problem.

Martinez’s Margaritaville doesn’t stop at frozen margaritas — there are several shaken/rocks margaritas, including one called the Mariano, described as “an alogrithim of ingredients … including a potent but polite portion of Don Julio Reposado, fresh-squeezed lime, Pierre Ferrand cognac [and] blended dry orange curacao.

The original Mariano’s in Dallas closed in 2003, but the Arlington location has been around since the 1970s. It’s at 2614 Majesty Drive, off of Texas 360. 817-640-5118; www.laharanch.com.

This report includes material from DFW.com archives.

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