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It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere: Hussong’s Cantina

2016 February 16
by jen

In early 2016, I launched the Margaritaville Blog and newsletter, Postcards from Margaritaville, for Margaritaville.com. As is my style, I wrote many of the early posts as examples of what their content approach and voice should be: light, fun and worthy of being shared from a barstool while sipping a margarita. This is the inaugural post for the It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere franchise.

It sounds like a story out of legend. And who knows, it might even be true.

We begin our tale in Germany, 1888, where Johann Hussong decides to immigrate to the United States. By the following year, a duly Americanized “John” Hussong is lured south of the border, the Mexican border, by the prospect of gold. Two more years pass, and John settles down Ensenada to tend to an injured friend at the only bar in town, Meiggs Bar.

Now this is where our tale becomes a legend. Literally two days after settling in, the owner of the bar attacks his wife with an ax. She skedaddles to California, and after a brief siesta in jail, Meiggs asks Hussong to tend the bar while he searches for his wife. Neither Meiggs nor his wife ever return.

Hussong runs this bar for a year and purchases the building across the street for his own place. John Hussong Bar. No ambiguity there. And that bar is still operating today at the same location.

And you know what? That’s not even the best part of the story.

Fast forward another 50 years to 1941, and another German, Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the German ambassador, visits the cantina. Bartender Don Carlos Orozco offers her a new concoction he’s been working on — equal parts tequila, lime, and a Mexican orange liqueur Controy (known as Naranja north of the border), served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. The name of that drink? You guessed it. The Margarita.

Little has changed in that quaint cantina since 1941. Or 1891 for that matter. John Hussong Bar has become John Hussong’s Cantina. Maybe a little more neon. And a second location in Las Vegas. But aside from that, it essentially the same place Johann opened over a hundred years ago while in search of gold.

Is the legend true? Honestly, we don’t think it matters. Because we’re all pretty happy with the treasure that got left behind, the margarita.

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