One might be forgiven for thinking that all classic Tiki drinks are rum drinks. The truth is that up to 5% of them use *gasp* other spirits. But this one is truly an outlier among outliers – you can count tequila based Tiki classics on the fingers of one thumb. For some reason tequila just wasn’t on the radar of exotic drink pioneers like Don Beach and Trader Vic despite its abundance just across the Rio Grande. And is wasn’t just them, apart from a brief and desperate flirtation with tequila during prohibition, the spirit was barely touched in the US until the 1950’s. Even the noble Margarita is a relatively recent drink in classic cocktail terms. So The Trader was well ahead of the game when a version of this drink, the Mexican El Diablo, appeared in his 1946 book Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink (a lesser known tome than his influential 1947 Bartender’s Guide). It’s not clear if Vic actually invented this drink or if the recipe came from the same place as the tequila but in any case it was a bit of a flash in the pan. Vic probably didn’t help sales by commenting “Go easy on this one – it’s tough on your running board”. Whatever the reason, it disappeared for well over a decade but then, in 1964, Vic got into the Mexican restaurant business and suddenly the El Diablo was back on the menu. It’s a highly quaffable drink that is mostly overlooked these days but it’s been a guilty pleasure of ours since we put it on the menu of our very first cocktail party back in the late 1990’s.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of this as a long drink – the trick to the perfect El Diablo is not to drown it in ginger beer. Speaking of which, try to use a ginger beer with some cojones such as those imported from Jamaica.
1.5oz / 45ml tequila (I used El Jimador reposado).
0.5oz / 15ml fresh lime juice.
0.75oz / 22.5ml creme de cassis (a blackcurrant liqueur).
2oz / 60ml ginger beer (not ginger ale which is much milder).
Stir gently with ice and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.
Garnish with a lime slice or wedge.
Toast Trader Vic again – it won’t be the last time.