Special Report: Juárez, the birthplace of the margarita

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JUÁREZ, Mexico – (KTSM) – More residents along the border are receiving their vaccinations and with talk of the border reopening after having been shut during the global pandemic, it may be time to reminisce on famed lore in Juárez.

Border Report journalist Julian Resendiz recalls the history of the reputed birthplace of the Margarita, and one of Juárez’s top tourist attractions, the Kentucky Club.

Historian Jose Luis Hernandez says American Prohibition transformed Juárez Avenue into a thriving entertainment district in the 1920s. Famed Mexican and U.S. television and movie stars along with Americans from all walks of life ventured to Juárez to partake in the life.

Sergio Peña, owner of the Kentucky Club in Juárez, says the strip in Downtown once resembled Las Vegas. People went back and forth to bars and cabarets, he added.

“But there was something unique at the Kentucky Club,” he said.

“She tasted it and she said, wow. Her friends tasted it as well. She asked, what’s the name of it and the boyfriend said, like you. Like me? Margarita? Yes. And, that’s the way it started,” Peña said.

Some debate has come from the claim. Did the Margarita really get invented in Juárez? Many internet sources credit a restaurant in Baja California for coming up with the drink for former Ziegfield dancer Marjorie King in 1938.

But Juárez historian Jose Luis Hernandez says the Margarita was served in the border town long before someone came up with a name for it.

“All kinds of drinks were prepared in the United States,” Hernandez said. “Then they get hit by prohibition. Bartenders probably brought to Mexico the Tequila and Cointreau formula minus the name.”

But the Kentucky bar stands by its claim. And, Americans still stop by the bar, despite travel restrictions.

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