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In The Family
Who Invented the Frozen Margarita?

The original machine is now in the Smithsonian.

Most edible inventions are lost to history; we’ll never know for certain who flipped the first burger or stirred the first martini. The frozen margarita is one of these. One of the first American blender drinks, it started to appear in bars in the 1930s and ’40, but it wasn’t until 1971 that Mariano Martinez began an inventor’s journey that would change the cocktail world forever: the frozen margarita machine.

As Martinez tells it to the Smithsonian, where his first machine is on exhibit, the restaurateur began using a soft-serve ice cream machine to keep up with customer demand at his Dallas restaurant and bar, Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine. The restaurant’s bartender was so swamped with orders for Martinez’s family recipe that he’d stopped measuring drink ingredients altogether; Martinez figured an automatic mixer could ease the load.

It was a hit, and soon after Martinez engineered a machine of his own specifically designed for boozy slurpees. Though he never received a patent for the device, he’ll go down in history as the father of the modern hangover.

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.