Before deciding whether or not we want to retire to Margaritaville, we must ask, where in the world is Margaritaville? Where exactly was Jimmy Buffett when he got wasted away, searchin’ for his lost shaker of salt? He was probably in Mexico because he picked up a new tattoo; a real cutie, a Mexican beauty! It must have been a pretty nice place in Mexico because even though he didn’t know the reason, he stayed there all season!
In order to determine where Margaritaville is, let’s first consider the primary ingredient of margaritas; tequila, of course. Tequila is distilled from the blue agave plant in steam heated ovens after which it is aged and cured in wooden barrels; a process that has been refined greatly since its inception in the late 19th century. Prior to the use of the ovens for distilling tequila, mezcal was produced from the agave plant, and has been in existence for more than 1,000 years. Mezcal tequila was first produced shortly after the Spanish Conquest of 1521 and later became North America’s first distilled drink, and its first commercially produced alcohol. Today’s mezcal is produced in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and other areas throughout Mexico. It is made from a single distillation process of a number of different agave plants other than blue agave, and is still widely available. It’s really not too bad, considering that it’s often cheaper than bottled water!
Now that we know the roots of tequila, let’s review the history of the agave plant. Archeological records trace the use of agave fibers or hemp and agave food products back over 10,000 years to an area located in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The valley between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, referred to as the Tequila Valley, is heavily laden with volcanic rocks, ash, and obsidian. As you might guess, the name of the major city in this valley is Tequila, Mexico. Evidently, most food crops don’t do too well is this rough terrain, however the blue agave plants thrive on the rich volcanic soil. Virtually 100% of the tequila in the world comes from the Mexican state of Jalisco and approximately 65% of it originates in this arid valley near the city of Tequila. Mexican law states that in order for any drink to be classified as tequila, it must contain at least 51% blue agave from the state of Jalisco.
During the past couple of generations, the popularity of tequila has been elevated from an “under the bridge” drink to one of the most expensive, fine spirits available in the marketplace today.
Okay, knowing that tequila is produced just outside of Puerto Vallarta, in the state of Jalisco, we next have to consider the balance of the ingredients in margaritas. Other than Triple Sec, an orange liqueur from Curacao in the Caribbean Islands, the rest of the margarita ingredients consist of fruit and fruit juices. Limes, strawberries, peaches, mangos, bananas, melons, and every other tropical fruit imaginable are used to temper the tequila! Of course, all of these tropical fruits are also grown in the valleys around Puerto Vallarta with limes being so abundant that the street vendors almost give them away.
Now that we understand that almost all of the margarita ingredients come from areas around Puerto Vallarta, it only makes sense that tourists, while visiting Vallarta, enjoy the local products including everything from Sunrises to Slammers; that sipping a cold margarita is synonymous with enjoying yourself in Vallarta, while helping the local economy. Surely, there are more margaritas consumed per capita in Vallarta than any other city in the world. They are so refreshing and so delicious, that PV probably has one of the most active AA groups south of the border!
Aside from being displayed on the bottle label of just about every brand of tequila, the blue agave emblem is frequently seen in local company logos, and to some, it has become the emblem of Mexico; a flag that is recognized worldwide. As an example, in 2006, the Champions Tour held their $1,600,000 Puerto Vallarta Blue Agave Classic golf tournament in town.
Finally, picture this; you’re totally relaxed without a care in the world, stretched out on a beach chair gazing out at the Pacific Ocean, sipping on a frozen margarita under a sunny sky on a 78*F day in February. Perhaps you’ve found Margaritaville; life just doesn’t get much better!
So, the question remains, was Jimmy Buffett in Puerto Vallarta when he lost his shaker of salt? Evidently he wasn’t, or he would still be here in Paradise, enjoying “la dolce vida”. Because we’re not sure exactly where Margaritaville is located, we can’t recommend retiring to Margaritaville, but you really should at least consider joining the 50,000 other North Americans in Puerto Vallarta, where the weather is perfect, the people are beautiful, and the fun never stops.