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· bajacalifornia,mexico,margarita,ensenada,tequila

The Margarita Queen.

When I was growing up, Ensenada was a small northern town, pretty much under the world’s radar. All I remember was tourism, in fact, that was one of the main economic activities in town at the time. Let me put it this way, its either you were part of the fishermen community OR you were in tourism or commerce OR you were there for scientific purposes. I was there for the third reason. As I mentioned in one of my latest posts, Ensenada holds the largest amount of scientists per capita in Mexico and it is well known as the city of knowledge. We have the most prestigious Scientific Research Institute, the National Astronomical Observatory and two main Universities. My parents, two recent Mathematician Doctorates looking for a future, brought me there on summer's day in 1986, I was 5 at the time.

Picture culled from Google

Growing up felt like being apart from the world. I remember one day we were on the national news, because of a 5-minute note someone made about the gray whales making their way to the south. The whole town talked about it for a week! I have a few friends who acted as “fillers” in the shooting of Titanic, which yes! was done near Ensenada, in Rosarito. If you are asking yourself that question, believe me, it was the event of the year which separated us for a while between real actors and common folk. But let's talk food shall we? Here’s a funny story, I remember when they opened the first McDonalds, back in 1991. For the first months, the whole town was there! You couldn't get your hands on a Big Mac (not that you needed to), without making a 3-hour line. That was the town I grew up in, and there was nothing I really admired about it back then, like every teenager, I may have dreaded it a little.

Image of the Avenida Reforma, where the first fast food restaurant was open in Ensenda in the 90's. Picture culled from Google

As I grew older, I started discovering many reasons to feel proud, reasons that today make me love the fact that I grew up in such an awesome little city, such a unique State, and overall, such an AMAZING Country! Now, let's go back to Ensenada! There are a bunch of amazing facts that I have already shared with you but will talk about deeply in my future posts. For instance, Did you know that it was in my hometown the first Margarita was born? Yup! Even though there’s some dispute in dates and places, It is believed to have been invented somewhere between the 30’s and the 40’s, and there are actually 2 bars in town disputing the credit, mind you, both places are so cool that it doesn't really matter which one ends up being the winner .

The first one is Cantina Hussong's, which happens to be the oldest Cantina in Baja California, founded by John Hussong, a German immigrant that came to Baja during the gold rush period. I guess people back then needed a place to drown out their sorrows after a whole day of finding absolutely no gold around. This historical place has been visited by celebrities from all over the world (they have the pictures on the wall to prove it), it still conserves the wild west vibe from 1897 when it was founded. SO, If you happen to be in town, don't hesitate and check it out!

Cantina Hussong's. Picture by Tomas Castelazo

The second one, is the bar Andaluz, of the famous Hotel Riviera del Pacific, a former casino rumored to have been managed by no other than Al Capone in the 1930s. Prohibitions in the USA sent North Americans south of the border in search of entertainment and alcohol at the time, so you can imagine the wild parties. This former hotel has been transformed into the city's largest community and cultural center, but the Andaluz is still running, outside of it, you can read a plaque that states "In this place the popular drink Margarita was invented by the bartender Mr.David Negrete, under request of Mrs. Margarita King Plant, then owner of the Hotel in August 21st 1948".

Photo culled from Google

So, regardless of where the Margarita really originated, let me tell you, nowadays, there are so many variations of this popular authentic Baja Drink that I wouldn't consider myself a Baja Californian if I didn't share mine with you! Enjoy!

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