The spicy margarita is a cocktail consisting of tequila, triple sec (such as Cointreau) and lime or lemon juice, and a jalapeno, often served with salt on the glass's rim. It is the most common tequila-based cocktail in the United States. The drink is served shaken with ice (on the rocks), blended with ice (frozen margarita), or without ice (straight up).
The exact origin and inventor of the margarita is unknown.
One of the earliest stories is of the margarita being invented in 1938 by Carlos "Danny" Herrera at his restaurant Rancho La Gloria, halfway between Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico, created for customer and former Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King, who was allergic to many spirits, but not to tequila. This story was related by Herrera and also by bartender Albert Hernandez, acknowledged for popularizing a Margarita in San Diego after 1947, at the La Plaza restaurant in La Jolla. Hernandez claimed the owner of La Plaza, Morris Locke, knew Herrera and visited Mexico often.
Hussong's Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, has also been cited as the place where the margarita was created, in October 1941, by bartender Don Carlos Orozco. He concocted a mixture of equal parts tequila, Damiana (Cointreau is used now) and lime, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass for Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico.
There are also claims that the margarita was first mixed in the El Paso-Juárez area at Tommy's Place Bar on July 4, 1942 by Francisco "Pancho" Morales. Morales later left bartending in Mexico to become a US citizen, where he worked as a milkman for 25 years. Mexico's official news agency Notimex and many experts have said Morales has the strongest claim to having invented the margarita.
Others say the inventor was Dallas socialite Margarita Sames, when she concocted the drink for her guests at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948. Tommy Hilton reportedly attended, bringing the drink back to the Hilton chain of hotels. However, Jose Cuervo was already running ad campaigns for the margarita three years earlier, in 1945, with the slogan, "Margarita: It's more than a girl's name." According to Jose Cuervo, the cocktail was invented in 1938 by a bartender in honor of Mexican showgirl Rita de la Rosa.
Another common origin tale begins the cocktail's history at the legendary Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas where, in 1948, head bartender Santos Cruz created the margarita for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee. He supposedly named it after the Spanish version of her name, Margarita, and it's been a hit ever since.
The first known publication of a margarita recipe was in the December 1953 issue of Esquire, with a recipe calling for an ounce of tequila, a dash of triple sec and the juice of half a lime or lemon. A recipe for a tequila-based cocktail first appeared in the 1930 book My New Cocktail Book by G.F. Steele. Without noting a specific recipe or inventor, a drink called the Tequila Daisy was mentioned in the Syracuse Herald as early as 1936. Margarita is Spanish for Daisy, which is a nickname for Margaret.
A later story is that the margarita was invented in October 1961, at a party in Houston, Texas, by party goer Robert James "Rusty" Thomson while acting as bartender. He concocted a mixture of equal parts tequila, orange liqueur, lime, and crushed ice in a salt-rimmed glass. However, Thomson's recipe was made with Damiana Liqueur, not Cointreau orange liqueur. It is said that the idea was an experiment after running out of rum while making frozen daiquiris.
Another explanation, however, is that the margarita is merely a popular American drink, the Daisy, remade with tequila instead of brandy, which became popular during Prohibition as people drifted over the border for alcohol. There is an account from 1936 of Iowa newspaper editor James Graham finding such a cocktail in Tijuana, years before any of the other Margarita "creation myths".