Friday, April 10, 2009

The History of the Upsidedown Margrita!

The Upside-down Margarita is commonplace at Jimmy Buffett concerts, beach parties, and backyard barbecues across the globe. It’s a long standing tradition that brings people together with smiles on their faces. However, most participants don’t have any concept of the storied history of this social phenomenon.

The legend of the Upsidedown Margarita can be traced back to when pirates controlled the seas of the Caribbean. There are many accounts of famed swashbucklers pouring bottles of booze into the mouths of their comrades. There are several theories as to the origins of pirates drinking this way. Could it be they did it to as a last gesture to a doomed prisoner whose hands were tied and about to walk the plank? Was it done as a form of pain relief to shipmates who were strapped to a table about to have a musket ball punctured leg amputated? Or did it start because the coconut shell drinking vessels used in the taverns were too full of bacteria and disease from years of use (without being washed)?

You can make a case for each of these theories, but most likely the Upsidedown Margarita began with a privateer simply known as Captain Geoff. Many years before acquiring his own ship, he was a lowly deckhand on the clipper Serena. Shortly after joining the crew they were involved in a bloody battle near present day Cuba. Accounts say that Geoff fought bravely, but his lack of experience betrayed him as he chose to show mercy on a defeated opponent. Feeling compassion for a wounded British soldier, he decided to spare him the death blow and instead turned to fight another. The downed soldier then drew his sword, wildly swung it, and chopped off Geoff’s right hand! Geoff continued to fight with only his left hand until the battle was won. Afterwards, the crew was so in awe of his courage, that they scrounged what few gold coins they had and had him fitted for a proper metal hook.

The years went on and “Lefty” Geoff continued to roam the seas, climbing the ranks until he took over his own ship, The Tiburon. His legend grew as a fierce fighter, but also as a captain who treated his crew well. So whenever the crew celebrated yet another captured treasure, they would show him a sign of respect by pouring tequila into his mouth, since he was unable to hold a bottle due to his hook. From then on, whenever pirates around the globe wanted to show the ultimate respect, they would perform the “Upsidedown Margarita”.

Centuries past and the tradition was lost to the sea and time. That is, until the early 1990’s. That’s when the famed treasure hunter team of Wally and Griffin were exploring a shallow cove off the coast of Guam. They came across a sunken pirate ship that had been buried under a large amount of sand from a much earlier typhoon. Because of the sheer amount of sand covering the ship, many of the objects were found in pristine condition…including the leather bound journal of Captain “Lefty” Geoff! Many of the pages had been damaged, but among the many entries, Wally and Griffin were able to make out some brief references to the “Upsidedown Margarita”. That little nugget of history might have been lost forever, but the adventure duo had found it after long last!

The Upsidedown Margarita had laid dormant for too long, and now it was time to re-release it to the world. Fittingly, Wally and Griffin decided to try it out at a Jimmy Buffett concert in 1994. They were at a concert in Buckeye Lake, Ohio when they first drank the way pirates used to over a century ago. Wally had the honors of sitting in a lawn chair as Griffin held two bottles – one a bottle of tequila, the other a bottle of margarita mix. He simultaneously poured them into his mouth. Wally then shook his head and gulped it down. He paused. Finally he said, “I like that. It is good.” And just like that, the legend of the Upsidedown Margarita was re-born.

So if you want to show a friend the pirate sign of respect, or you just want to have a good time, then drink as pirates drank – The Upsidedown Margarita!

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