When it comes to tequila, you want something less expensive than the ubiquitous margarita, more thoughtful than shots. You spin through a mental Rolodex of cocktail recipes, realizing that your tequila selection is awfully thin. The great Google isn’t, however, so you start a search for authentic tequila cocktails that leads you, somehow, to the devil.
El Diablo, that is. This tempting mix of tequila, lime juice, and crème de cassis, finished with ginger beer, is as authentically Mexican as most Cinco de Mayo celebrations held all over America. Which is to say, not very. The rosy-hued drink’s origin story is a mystery, but its first known appearance came in Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink—a 1946 tiki bar bible that’s recently become a retro source of inspiration for mixologists. Tucked in with recipes for rum punch and Mai Tais, the tequila-based El Diablo is a bit of an oddball for its time. But its charms have held up over the decades—as its recent revival is proving.
The crème de cassis—not your typical pairing for tequila—acts as sweetener, balancing the tart lime and smooth, vegetal tequila with deep fruit flavor. A generous splash of ginger beer balances and refreshes, making this new summer favorite even easier to sip. El Diablo is an American invention—but in many ways, so are our guac- filled, sombrero-sporting Cinco de Mayo celebrations. And that has never stopped us from raising a glass to our neighbor down south.
Yields 1 serving
2 oz. reposado tequila
Juice of 1⁄2 a lime
1/2—1 oz. crème de cassis (to taste)
2-inch strip of lime peel
Combine the tequila, lime juice, and crème de cassis in a large lowball glass, stirring well. Fill with ice and top with ginger beer (equal parts drink and ginger beer is optimal). Twist the lime peel to release the aromatic oils, and drop it into the cocktail.