My hands-down, favorite drink of all time is a zombie. Unfortunately, precious few bars that I've run across in my travels stock all of the hooch required to make one. Fewer still are the bartenders who can recall how to make one—it's an old alcoholic's drink from a bygone era that, given the amount of alcohol it takes to make one, is most likely better left in my past. I think about them, often. Sadly, that's usually as far as it goes. I was told, a couple of years back that, with the number of heart medications that I take daily, I shouldn't be drinking. Most of the time, I accept my fate. But, very occasionally, when the weather's fit to scorch a hole in ass of my pants while I sit and write, I cheat on my cardiologist's orders with a single frozen margarita. Today, I ran a damn fine account of the origins the beverage, written by Texas Monthly's Patrcia Sharpe.
On May 7th, 2021, the Frozen Margarita will celebrate its 50th birthday, brought into the world by restaurateur and liquor savant, Mariano Martinez.
From Texas Monthly:
Martinez, now 76, takes up the story he has recounted with gusto for five decades. "I tossed and turned all that night," he says. "The next morning I went to 7-Eleven for coffee and a pack of gum." While there, he glanced at the store's Slurpee machine, and "it came to me in a flash, like a gift from God." If that thing could make a slushy soft drink, surely it could make a frozen margarita. When the Southland Corporation, the parent company of 7-Eleven at the time, declined to sell him one, he and a mechanically minded friend named Frank Adams bought a used SaniServ soft-serve ice cream machine and lugged it to the restaurant.
"We tinkered around with it," he remembers; they installed a stronger motor and compressor to swirl and chill the ingredients, and then Martinez experimented with different amounts of tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice. A few days later, on May 11, as they were setting the industrial-looking apparatus on the bar, he recalled a bit of advice from his friend Norman Brinker, the brains behind Chili's. The restaurant guru had cautioned that people wouldn't pay much for a drink made by a machine. He'd also warned him not to destroy the mood. So Martinez covered the shiny stainless-steel box with wood-grain contact paper. The icy green slush that would soon emerge from it was about to make cocktail history.
If you have the time, kick back with a frosty glass, mind the brain freeze and read the rest of Sharpe's story. It's fabulous.
Image via Flickr, courtesy of Bex Walton