The Original Hotel Del Prado Margarita

The Original Hotel Del Prado Margarita

How popular are Margaritas anyway?

The Margarita has recently emerged as the most popular cocktail in the US thanks to its many variations. Margarita’s captured a whopping 20% share of all cocktails served in American bars and restaurants in 2013, and effectively became what the Daiquiri was in the 90s. Even though its rise to fame is fairly recent, the drink itself is nearly 100 years-old, which begs the question: What are other classic Margarita cocktail variations?

Tequila always seemed to lend itself better to a crowdpleasing highball such as the Paloma, the original Tequila Sunrise, the Batanga or the El Diablo, where plenty of dilution guaranteed its bold aroma would take the backseat.

The Original Hotel Del Prado

Prado Margarita Hotel Del Prado

The Prado Margarita isn’t just a tequila drink with a great pedigree, but also an excellent one. It was first mentioned in the 1957 edition of ‘Esquire’ Drink Book, a cocktail recipe collection published by the famous magazine and curated by Frederic A. Birmingham, who attributed it to the swank Hotel Del Prado, in the heart of Mexico City.

Prado Cocktail 1957 Esquire Drink Book

The Prado Margarita Cocktail from the 1957 Esquire Drink Book

Built in the middle of downtown across the street from the beautiful Alameda Park, Hotel Del Prado completed in 1933. The Prado was designed in Art Deco style by Modernist architect Carlos Obregon Santacila in collaboration with Mario Pani Darqui. The Hotel Del Prado gained even more notoriety after muralist Diego Riviera painted a massive mural in the lobby in 1947-48. Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en el Parque Alameda, stirred controversy at the time due to a small Marxist inscription Riviera tucked in the painting that read, “God does not exist“.

Prado Margarita

Diego Riviera| “Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en el Parque Alameda” mural in the Prado Hotel | Image credit

The Prado Margarita is a Tequila Sour, but uses maraschino liqueur as a sweetener, a bold move that can easily overpower a softer tequila.

Grab a bottle of peppery, bold Blanco, whip up a Prado and marvel at the results. There is no record for how old the drink is, but it’s got the hallmark of a post-WWII cocktail, when exotica and escape guided adventurous taste buds. Before the 1940’s, it would’ve been unthinkable for a posh hotel that catered to foreigners to have a drink showcasing the humble native firewater as their signature cocktail. Even Charles H. Baker Jr., an early advocate of tequila, admitted in The Gentleman’s Companion (1939) (Link: Camper English Alcademics review)  that locals mostly swigged the stuff, and had a hard time to find anyone mixing it into drinks: 

“We began going on a still hunt for some way to mix tequila. We were greeted with raised eyebrows, expressions of commiseration for waning sanity, open distrust.” – Charles H. Baker Jr (The Gentleman’s Companion, 1939)

Hotel Del Prado was severely damaged by the devastating Mexico City Earthquake in 1985, but the Riviera mural survived. For nearly two years specialized crews worked to stabilize the building, carefully removed the mural and moved it across the street in the park. The hotel was subsequently torn down, and a new one rebuilt a block away, sadly without the former hotel’s elegance, its swagger, nor its Prado Cocktail.


Prado Margarita

Prado Margarita

Prado Margarita Cocktail

1½ oz The 86 Co. Cabeza Blanco Tequila

½ oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

¾ oz fresh lime juice

1 egg white

Dry-shake all ingredients, then shake hard with ice. Fine strain into a chilled Coupe. Traditionally garnished with a wheel of lime and a speared cherry.

For this Prado Margarita picture we used culinary tweezers and placed lime hairs on the foam. Because, fancy.


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