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Danny Herrera, Inventor of Margarita, Dies at Age 90

May 14, 1992|PAUL CHAVEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

They now come in strawberry, blueberry and wine flavors, some with shaved ice and some without. But, for Carlos (Danny) Herrera, there was only one way--the original way--to make a margarita.

Herrera, the creator of the margarita, died this week at Grossmont Hospital of natural causes. He was 90.

It was in the late 1940s, in a Tijuana roadside restaurant, that he first poured the famed drink. As Herrera told it, the margarita began as an experiment when he tried to concoct something that would quench the thirst of a beautiful young showgirl named Marjorie King.

"She was allergic to everything except tequila," Herrera said in a 1991 Times interview. "But she couldn't take it straight, or even with the lemon and the salt. But she liked it. So I started experimenting."

One day he experimented by mixing three parts white tequila, two parts Cointreau and one part fresh lemon juice. Herrera mixed the drinks, added shaved ice and shook the container. Herrera included the recognizable small glass with a short stem, its rim drenched in lemon juice and covered with salt.

Marjorie King, like so many others after her, liked the drink. And today, people order it by the name Herrera gave it: Margarita, Spanish for Marjorie.

Before he invented the margarita, Herrera was a Tijuana pioneer, who helped to develop the area. In 1932, he and his first wife lived in a shack, where they had a cow, some chickens and a well. They soon built a house, which included a bar, behind the shack.

From that modest beginning, Herrera eventually turned the house into a restaurant, and later built a small hotel to complement the restaurant.

Herrera left the Tijuana area five years ago to live with his daughter, Gloria, in San Diego. He is survived by her, four grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Herrera will be cremated and his ashes scattered at his old home.

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