In the summer of 1936, James Graham, the owner and editor of The Moville Mail newspaper in Moville, Iowa, took his wife to Southern California for a bit of sightseeing. While there, as many do, the Grahams took a little side jaunt to Tijuana, Mexico, where—again, as many do—they found themselves in the grip of a sudden thirst for something alcoholic.
Four years earlier, the choice of drinking establishments would have been a tough one—during Prohibition, Tijuana had some 150 of them. But in 1936, with Americans fully able to drink alcohol at home, the city was down to a mere nine or ten bars. An Irishman by the name of Madden ran one of the survivors, and that’s where the Iowans headed. The couple’s taxi driver had mentioned Madden’s drink-mixing skills and told them of his fame as the creator of a thing known as the Tequila Daisy.
“As a newspaperman seeking information,” Graham wrote in the lengthy report of his trip that he ran in his paper (bear in mind that Moville had a population of around 975), “I entered the joint and told Mr. Madden my curiosity was aroused regarding The Daisy.” Mr. Madden was not the most talkative of men, but eventually, he was persuaded to admit that the drink’s creation was a mistake. “In mixing a drink, I grabbed the wrong bottle and the customer was so delighted that he called for another and spread the good news far and wide.”
Why are we bothering with Iowa newspapermen and Irish barkeepers when discussing a Mexican cocktail? Because, you see, the word for “daisy” in Spanish is “margarita,” and there are few cocktails more popular than the Margarita, or more obscure in their origin.
Graham never said what was in Madden’s Daisy, or (truth be told) ever actually admitted to trying one. But if you take a Brandy Daisy, a standard bar drink of the pre-Prohibition era, and accidentally reach for the tequila instead of the brandy—well, you be the judge.
2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
Club soda, chilled, to top
In a shaker, stir together the lemon juice and sugar.
Add the tequila and Grand Marnier, and fill with ice.
Shake until well-chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Top with a small splash of club soda.
What's In a Traditional Margarita?
A classic Margarita traditionally has tequila, triple sec and lime juice, often with the addition of another sweetener such as simple syrup or agave nectar.
What Is a Daisy Cocktail?
The Daisy is a standard sour cocktail that employs a spirit, citrus, orange liqueur, and soda water. The cocktail was first featured as a Brandy Daisy and first appeared in the 1862 edition of Professor Jerry Thomas’s essential bartender's manual, How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant’s Companion.
“Things like the Sidecar and Kamikaze all fall into the Daisy format, which is two parts booze, one part Cointreau [or generally orange liqueur] and three-quarters lemon or lime juice,” says bartender and co-owner of Brooklyn’s Leyenda, Ivy Mix. “You can mess around in that format, but it will still probably taste pretty good.”