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Magnolia Margarita: Lost in translation

We have our opinions on the true origin of this classic cocktail, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one!

July 4th, 1942—just another Fourth of July holiday for most, but for one man, it was an infamous day he’d never forget. In the early 1940s, Pancho Morales was considered by many to be the best bartender in Juarez. He worked at a well-known watering hole called Tommy’s Place, which was frequented by U.S. soldiers training across the border for the war. According to Morales, Tommy’s was the place to be on the Fourth and he was furiously making cocktails for thirsty patrons all day long.

At some point, a woman came in and asked for a Magnolia, which Morales didn’t exactly know how to make (other than the fact that in contained lime juice, cointreau and some booze). Too proud to say otherwise, he did what anyone would do: he faked it, combining some lime juice, cointreau and tequila in a glass.

When the patron exclaimed, “This isn’t a Magnolia, but it is very good!” Morales chalked it up to a translation issue. Margarita means daisy in Spanish, so Morales thought that’s what she was asking for. She ordered a few more, and before long the drink had caught on with other patrons.

That, according to Morales, is how the margarita came to be. His story, to some degree, has been corroborated by colleagues and a hand-scratched recipe on a stack of old bar tabs pre-dated with 194_. Whether it was Morales or someone else who brought the world-renown tequila-based cocktail to life may always be a mystery. But sometimes legends like this one, are better left to the imagination.