Mariano Martinez, Man of the Margaritas

this gorgeous photo is from WTFrills

this gorgeous photo is from WTFrills

Consider if you will, one Mariano Martinez, high-school drop-out from Dallas, Texas. The year is 1971 and Mr. Martinez opens Mariano’s Hacienda, a restaurant serving Mexican food. Problems arise on opening night when servers realize they can’t keep up with orders for frozen margaritas. His staff has but one blender and they’re short on cut limes as well. Says Martinez in Pegasus News:

We were burning up blenders faster than I could afford to buy new ones, but customers were complaining that the drinks were inconsistent and bartenders were complaining that the drinks were too difficult to make.

Despondent, Martinez takes a long walk one night and stops at a local 7/11 store. Here he finds the machine that will make him famous: the Slurpee maker. Martinez notes that this contraption will solve all of his margarita woes. His drinks could be made quickly, in high volume, and each would be exactly the same as the one before. In this moment, Martinez transforms from restaurateur to inventor.

man and machine photo source

man and machine
photo source

Though the Slurpee is Martinez’s inspiration, he modifies a soft-serve ice cream machine for his first prototype. Curiously, Martinez never patents this invention and is quoted as saying,

I never even dreamed I had anything to patent, I was only interested in my restaurant. I wasnโ€™t interested in going into the machine business.

That first machine makes frozen margaritas at Hacienda for 34 years, after which it retires to Washington D.C.’s National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. Museum director Brent D. Glass sagely tells us:

The invention of the frozen margarita machine is a classic example of the American entrepreneurial spirit.

from Mariano's Hacienda website

from Mariano’s Hacienda website

Here at Blog of Funny Names, we celebrate the achievements of those with extraordinary and unusual names. Because Mariano’s Hacienda is still going strong (according to the company’s website, Mariano Martinez has three restaurant concepts, with six locations total*), we rim our glasses with salt and raise our frozen margaritas to the man who made it all possible. ยกArriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro!

* Please feel free to clarify, native Texan and fellow BoFN contributor, Kerbey.

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About Liz

Owner of deLizious Food Communications. Projects include recipe development, editing, and formatting; food writing and editing; nutrition analysis; public speaking and cooking instruction. Past and present clients: General Mills, Green Giant Fresh, Hormel, Minnesota Beef Council, Minnesota Soybean, Minnesota Pork Producers, Norwood Promotional Products, Pillsbury, Tad Ware, and Weight Watchers Publishing. Mother of two young girls.
This entry was posted in funny names in food, funny names in spirits and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Mariano Martinez, Man of the Margaritas

  1. ksbeth says:

    where there is a need…..genius arises – i raise my giant frozen glass of margartia deliciousness to all of you. oops, it’s not even 8am yet and i’m at school in my classroom. ole!

  2. wdydfae says:

    I love margaritas! And if anyone can do margaritas their due justice, in whatever form they happen to take, it is Liz.

    • Liz says:

      Thanks, diddy. I can see you being a margarita man ๐Ÿ™‚ This post has inspired me to make a margarita for this week’s food for fun. I will pour you one. Gracias and de nada.

  3. markbialczak says:

    Dude could have been rich selling machines but he’s happy hawking margaritas one salt-rimmed glass-filled table at a time. Here’s to the wonderful Mr. Double M. Never could the drink of choice at his joint be the frozen daquiri, not with a name like Mario Martinez, es verdad!

    I think he is quite lucky, however, that 7Eleven did not seek a worldwide alcohol license, or maybe all Mexican restaurants would have been whacked on the side of the profit-margin head. What do you think, Liz? Frozen Margaritas in a large Slurpee cup would make the burrito from the microwave taste good enough?

    • Liz says:

      You make an excellent point, Mark, about MM being committed to his margarita pouring business and not getting caught up in the riches of restaurant equipment. Es verdad. (Hadn’t heard that once since high school Spanish class!)

      Frozen margaritas at 7-11 won’t work as we don’t need more drunk folks on the road. No siree. Though the microwave burrito would definitely taste better if the consumer had alcohol in his/her system. All that grease would go quite nicely with the ‘rita. (or frita, yes Kerbey ๐Ÿ™‚ ) )

      Speaking of K, I am in awe of her margarita experience and knowledge. Wow. She is in charge of margaritas when we open that restaurant/bar.

      • markbialczak says:

        OK, Kerbey is on blender/Slurpee machine duty. I’ll brush up on mi Espanol. I’d love to put the old se habla sign behind the bar, wouldn’t you, Liz? Four years in high school, two at Maryland. I am very rusty — try 35 years of neglect — though I was one of the lucky ones able to roll my rrrrrrr’s with ease.

        You’re right about keeping the frita out of the 7Elevens for road safety’s sake. Our bar will have a contract with Yellow Cab, and we’ll set ourselves up in a walking neighborhood, too, I hope.

  4. kerbey says:

    Do you know that I’ve never heard of this man nor his restaurants? Yet, I have worked in many restaurants that have frozen margarita machines. So you’re telling me he never even got a cent from that invention? Yeesh. Those machines are in every bowling alley, diner, and dive around these parts. My concern when ordering is always that enough tequila is not put into the machine. When waiting tables, we wrote Rita (for rocks) or Frita (for frozen) then asked if they wanted sugar or salt rims, and if they wanted call or well tequila and which swirl (from raspberry to cactus, there are tons of swirls), and it could just take forever. Then you have to garnish and be careful not to break the stems on the dainty glasses. If we order them when we go out, we just get the big goldfish bowls, nice and sturdy. It’s amazing how many families go out to eat with two parents drinking enormous mango or strawberry Fritas swirled in the huge glass. Who’s driving home?

    I see that the locations are located around Dallas, and Dallas is the devil. We avoid driving anywhere near Dallas because people there will cross four lanes of traffic without signalling. I think they are all on crack. It’s enough to put me into cardiac arrest. We will drive an hour out of our way (as we did going to Arkansas last month) to avoid the big D.

    On another note, this surname is pretty common; we have more Martinezes than you can shake a stick at. Throw a rock and you’ll hit any “z” ending name in Texas: Rodriguez, Lopez, Sanchez, Valdez–and that’s just our neighbor’s house. But it does make me wonder why John Wayne had to change his name from Marion, but Mariano is acceptable as a hispanic man’s first name. In any event, Jimmy Buffet should go thank this man!

    • Liz says:

      yes, had Margaritaville playing in my head when I wrote this post. Also know that Mariano Martinez was maybe funnier because of the double M than it was the names themselves. Martinez is not and odd name (my girls’ piano teacher is Ms. Martinez) and Mariano is traditional Spanish name. But I take what I can get here at Funny Names in Food.

      So wow on your margarita knowledge. Putting you in charge of all things margarita from here on out. You are the Queen. Have never made a frozen margarita (don’t have one of those machines, for one), but will try one today as I think the next food for fun should be about a frita so I can tie it in with this post. Marketing and all that.

      So how do you really feel about Dallas, Kerbey? Wasn’t able to get a real strong impression from you on that. Ha. Sounds like a scary and crazy place. Had expected you to know all about MM and his restaurant empire and was even thinking you’d set me straight (respectfully, of course) on my details–the Interwebs can not always be believed and maybe I got something wrong. But I taught you a bit about a guy in your home state just as you teach me about Zimmern, the not-typical Minnesotan. (I think he’s originally from NY.)

      Have wondered about the mom and dad drinking giant margaritas, too. And fishbowls, yes, that is an excellent idea.

      Thank you for your fantastico comment, Margarita Queen. I humbly bow to your knowledge. Had never even heard of swirls.

  5. wdydfae says:

    For some reason the song “Mona Lisa” is going through my head, except it goes
    Mariano maker of the margaritas
    frozen ones from the machine of Martinez . . .

    Plus, when did bowling alleys start serving margaritas?

    • Liz says:

      If Kerbey says there are margarita machines in bowling alleys, it is true. She is Queen Margarita. King Dave and Queen Margarita–we have a lovely court here at BoFN! You can be the royal scribe and I shall be the court cook.

  6. Now that’s some inspiration. And to think it never occurred to him to patent his product. I’m sure that doesn’t happen now a days.

  7. Pingback: the holiday frita | food for fun

  8. Arto says:

    I’d like ten margaritas, please!

    Oh, maybe it’s too early for that. Time to head to a more advanced time zone.

    Never did I know where margarita slushie machines originated. A 7-11 of course! What a place of inspiration that is.

    • Liz says:

      Ten might be too many all at once. Pace yourself, Arto. Unless of course five of them were for your lovely wife ๐Ÿ™‚ This guy is a genius.

  9. Dave says:

    Margarita Slurpees! Margarita SLURPEES!!!! MARGARITA SLURPEEEEEESSS!!!!!!?!?!!!

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