When most people think of classic tequila drinks, their mind probably goes to the Margarita first, maybe the Paloma second. They may never get to the El Diablo, but they should. This mid-century classic combines tequila with crème de cassis (a sweet blackcurrant liqueur), lime juice and ginger.
The recipe first appeared in print as the Mexican El Diablo in “Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink,” which was published in 1946 and lists Vic as the drink’s creator (later recipes shortened the name to El Diablo, as it’s been known since). That first recipe called for ginger ale, and you can opt for the gingery soda if you like. But ginger ale during this time period was spicier than most options available today, the former version having more in common with ginger beer. This recipe uses ginger beer to best recreate the cocktail’s traditional flavor.
The El Diablo offers another important choice beyond the bubbly topper. You can add all the ingredients into a shaker with ice and strain the contents into a glass, which supplies a gorgeous reddish-purple cocktail. Or you can build the drink in your glass, starting with the tequila and lime followed by the ginger beer, and then adding a float of cassis on top as the finishing touch. This construction creates a visually stunning cocktail with a richly colored halo on top before the liqueur slowly leaks toward the bottom of the glass. Both methods produce a delicious drink that finds balance between earthy tequila, fresh citrus, sweet and fruity liqueur and spicy ginger.
Today, it’s also common to find El Diablos made with fresh ginger syrup. In this case, the cocktail is usually topped with sparkling water rather than ginger beer to prevent a ginger overload. You’ve got options, and all of them yield positive results, so do what feels right to make this drink your own.
- 1 1/2 ounces reposado tequila
- 1/2 ounce crème de cassis
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 3 ounces ginger beer
- Garnish: lime wedge
Add the tequila, crème de cassis and lime juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with the ginger beer.
Garnish with a lime wedge.