Nestled within the Neon Boneyard, the iconic Margarita Baby sign once adorned the façade of the Margarita Baby Pizza Kitchen, a fleeting gem on Las Vegas Boulevard South, operating from 2007 to 2008.
Despite its brief existence, this distinctive sign pays homage to the legendary Margarita, a cocktail steeped in tradition. Comprising tequila, triple sec, and lime, served in a salt-rimmed glass, the Margarita boasts myriad regional and taste variations.
The origins of the margarita are largely a mystery, baffling even experts in the field. One of the earliest instances of the drink can be found in the Café Royal Cocktail Book, published in London in 1937.
In recent years, the margarita’s primary ingredient, tequila, has experienced a major surge in popularity in the United States. In 2022, sales of agave-based spirits such as mescal and tequila topped $13.3 billion, surpassing the sales of domestic whiskey and vodka (Ghosh, 2022). Part of this success is driven by what Wine Enthusiast Magazine refers to as, “the George Clooney Effect,” or celebrities beginning to roll out their own tequila brands, like Clooney with Casamigos Tequila or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with Teremana.
In spite of its recent popularity, tequila also holds cultural significance to the Aztecs. “Pulque,” an early iteration of tequila, was primarily imbibed during the religious ceremonies of the Aztecs, as early as 200 A.D., derived from the “fermented sap of the agave plant” (Morillo, 2021).
The beverage, with its sour taste and cloudy, viscous appearance, was not distilled until the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s (Overproof, 2022). Distillation required a prolonged process – including baking, extraction, fermentation, distillation, and aging - and technical requirements (Overproof, 2022).
The first “large-scale distillery” was established in Jalisco in the early 1600s, setting the stage for wide-scale commercial production the following century (Morillo, 2021).
Modern tequila production is regulated by the federal government, with production limited to “municipalities including Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Guanajuato, Nayarit, and the state of Jalisco” (Overproof, 2022). But, when you visit the neon boneyard, we will not regulate our visitors on seeping the sight of our Margarita Baby.
Ghosh, B. (2022, September 19). The Mexican Liquor Boom Is About to Get an American Boost. Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/the-mexican-liquorboom-is-about-toget-an-american-boost/2022/09/18/eafac99c-3751-11ed-b8af-0a04e5dc3db6_story.html
Jaramillo, N. (2023, January). THE RISE OF CELEBRITY TEQUILA BRANDS AND THE EFFECT ON THE CATEGORY. Retrieved from Colangelo & Partners: https://www.colangelopr.com/2023/01/the-rise-of-celebrity-tequila-brands-and-the-effect-on-the-category/
Morillo, A. (2021, April 20). The Tequila You Know And Love Today Dates Back To The Aztec Civilization. Retrieved from Delish: https://www.delish.com/kitchen-tools/a36167100/history-of-tequila/
Overproof. (2022, June 7). Tequila Production: Step by Step Guide. Retrieved from Overproof: https://overproof.com/2022/06/07/tequila-production-process/#:~:text=What%20are%20the%20steps%20to,at%20least%2014%2D21%20days.