Margarita Machine Museum Bound

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 8:19am

Smithsonian to display first automated frozen margarita machine.

The frozen margarita machine has made the National Museum of American History's top 10 list of inventions.

The tried-and-true staple of any Tex-Mex restaurant sits at No. 10 on the list.

"I'm still working on formulas and still trying to make them right," said Mariano Martinez, the native North Texan who invented the machines.

Martinez, the owner of Mariano's and La Hacienda restaurants, came up with the idea in 1971 when he was just 26 years old.

"Hardly anyone knew the margaritas," he said.

Not long after he opened Mariano's, a customer complained to him about the margaritas.

"He said, 'Well, the first round was pretty good. The second round didn't taste at all like the first round,'" Martinez explained, "and he said, 'The third round, this is terrible, they're not even cold.'"

Martinez spend a sleepless night trying to figure out how to fix the problem.

The next morning, he went to a 7-Eleven for some coffee.

"I saw the Slurpee machine sitting there, and the light bulb went off in my head, and I said, 'That's it,'" he said.

After a few modifications and a lot of trial and error with the recipe, the machine was born.

"We put it right on the back bar," he said. "It was the only place we had to put it."

Now his invention sits in the National Museum of American History, a Smithsonian museum.

"To be in the top 10, I had to pinch myself," Martinez said. "My next goal, I want to be 100 and still active in this business."

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