Havana claims the mojito. San Juan, the piña colada. And Dallas? Dallas is the birthplace of the frozen margarita machine.
Hometown hero Mariano Martinez came up with the frozen margarita machine in 1971, the year he opened Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine y Cantina on Greenville Avenue. The restaurant was the first upscale Mexican spot in the city, and it had two-hour waits every night. Everyone, of course, wanted a margarita; the drink had recently surpassed the martini as the most popular drink in the country.
“My original intention was to serve my father’s secret recipe for making margaritas in a blender,” Martinez says. “But bartenders were overwhelmed with so many orders that they couldn’t keep up. Guests were complaining about the inconsistency in each round and that some margaritas were not even cold.”
Martinez was losing sleep over the issue. One day, perhaps in a sleepless daze, he walked into a 7-Eleven and became transfixed with the Slurpee machine — which, as it turns out, had been invented in Dallas a decade before.
“I thought I could create a similar type of machine that would solve all the problems,” he says. “We could make up a batch of margaritas using precise measurements prior to each shift. Margaritas would be as easy as pulling a lever for the bartenders. And as far as being cold, what could be colder than frozen?”
He customized a soft-serve ice cream machine to make his invention, Máquina de Margaritas Heladas, which amazed his thirsty guests and inspired many copycats. The original has a home in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the mass-produced version is used all over the city — and world — to blend margaritas and nonmargaritas alike.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the machine is used to make other frozen drinks,” Martinez says. “We subsequently used our machines for frozen strawberry margaritas, frozen sangria, frozen peach margaritas, frozen wine margaritas ... . It just takes a little imagination.”
There's more than a little imagination among Dallas bartenders looking to cool down drinkers this summer. Here’s where to find 10 of our favorite frozen drinks in the city this summer.
Frozen margarita, $10
Mariano's Hacienda, 6300 Skillman St.
If you’re craving blended tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and ice, you have to get it from the O.G. Mariano’s has a different name and location now, but the frozen margarita is just as cold and consistent as it was when Martinez first whipped it up nearly 50 years ago.
Rapscallion, 2023 Greenville Ave.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Rapscallion’s frozen take on the piña colada: rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, lime juice and falernum, an almond and ginger syrup used in tiki drinks. It is appropriately served in a plastic coconut.
Double Wide, 3510 Commerce St.
Single Wide, 2110 Greenville Ave.
Double Wide and Single Wide’s Yoo-hoo Yeehaw, a local classic of the frozen genre, combines vanilla vodka, coffee liqueur and chocolate Yoo-hoo to make what the bar calls “White Russian meets white trash.”
Machos Cantina, 3900 Cedar Springs Road
For most people, the vodka Red Bulls is very much a 1 a.m. in the club type of drink. But for those of us who actually enjoy the taste of Red Bull in the daylight, we have a safe drinking space at Macho's Cantina, where vodka and Red Bull are frozen together in a margarita machine.
Frozen Moscow Mule, $10
HG Sply Co., 2008 Greenville Ave., Dallas, and 1621 River Run, Fort Worth
You cannot call yourself a $30,000 millionaire unless you're drinking frozen Moscow mules on a rooftop in the summer. Make it happen at HG Sply Co., which swaps out the traditional ginger beer for ginger kombucha tea and garnishes each glass with a piece of potent candied ginger.
The Grapevine Bar, 3902 Maple Ave.
It is only appropriate that the Grapevine — Dallas’ quirkiest 20-year-old dive bar — makes its frozen peach Bellinis with Everclear. Prepare to get inappropriate after just one.
Truck Yard, 5624 Sears St.
The Truck Yard has a whole menu of “freaking freezing” libations, probably because it gets so freaking hot on its patio in the summer. Cool down over the Truck ½ Yard, which is half frozen Mai Tai and half frozen trashcan punch (vodka and “other good stuff”).
Frozen Irish coffee, $7.50 ($6.50 during happy hour)
The Twilite Lounge, 2640 Elm St.
There is an unwritten law that says you may not leave Deep Ellum without a nightcap of the milkshake-like frozen Irish coffee at Twilite Lounge.
Oddfellows, 316 W. Seventh St.
Frosé — frozen rosé wine — took Dallas by storm last summer, and our favorite is still on the brunch menu at Oddfellows in Bishop Arts. This version of the pink treat includes a mint simple syrup, leaving you with a refreshing, menthol chill.