Baja’s Battle over the Birthplace of the Margarita

 

There’s no doubt that one of Mexico’s most iconic commodities is the margarita. There are variations on the drink, but it most commonly consists of fresh lime juice, tequila, and controy (Mexico’s orange liquor), served with ice.  When you order a margarita, you can have it blended (liquada) or on the rocks (en las rocas), with salt on the rim of the glass (con sal) or without (sin sal).

There are a number of reputed stories about where the margarita was invented. In Baja,  Ensenada has two classic bars—Hussong’s and Bar Andaluz at the Riviera del Pacifico—that claim to be the birthplace of the margarita. Which one is really the birthplace? We may never know. Which place currently offers the best margarita? We’ll let you try them both and decide for yourself.

 

Hussong’s Cantina

As the oldest and most famous cantina in Baja California, Hussong’s Cantina is more than just a bar—it’s an institution. Founded in 1892 by a German immigrant named John Hussong, it was originally an inn for stagecoaches and the bar retains that wild west feeling with a large wood bar and peanut shells all over the ground. 100 years and three generations later, Hussong’s is still a family-run operation. The bar has remained much the same over the years and has been visited by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, and John Wayne.

Their story of the margarita comes from 1941 when bartender Carlos Orozco made a new cocktail and served it to Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico. She loved the refreshing drink so Orozco decided to name it after her.

Hussong’s Cantina 
Ave. Ruiz 113
tel. 011-52-646-178-3210
Open 9am-2am Tues.-Sun.
2-for-1 margaritas on Saturday

 

Bar Andaluz at Riviera del Pacifico

With its elegant Spanish architecture, the Riviera del Pacifico (Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas 1421, tel. 646/176-4310, www.rivieradeensenada.com.mx) has been one of Ensenada’s crowning jewels since 1930. The white building and surrounding gardens, used to be one of Ensenada’s grandest hotels, when it was opened by the famous boxer Jack Dempsey. Many of Hollywood’s elite, including Bing Crosby and Rita Hayworth, spent time here during Prohibition.

Much of the original tile and paintings have been preserved throughout the structure, including at Bar Andaluz (5pm-11pm Mon., 10am-11pm Tues.-Sat., 10am-8pm Sun.) in the main building at street level. The mural behind the bar was painted by Alfredo Ramos Martínez and is original to the building. The indoor area of the bar is small, but there’s a beautiful outdoor courtyard area if the weather is nice.

Bar Andaluz claims that the margarita was first served here by bartender David Negrete in 1948 and named after Margarita King, who was the owner of the Riviera during the 1940s.

Bar Andaluz 
Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas 1421
tel. 646/176-4310
Open 5pm-11pm Mon., 10am-11pm Tues.-Sat., 10am-8pm Sun
2-for-1 margarita night on Wednesdays

 

 

 

 

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