Some good summer cocktail karma here at the farm. First we get cherries to play with, and then we stumble on a classic recipe and just happen to have all the ingredients and the drink turns out to be very, very good. And the cocktail, of course, is the El Diablo. The El Diablo is a combination of tequila, lime, crème de cassis and ginger beer served on the rocks. The El Diablo packs a lot of flavor with the sour lime, sweet Cassis and the spice of the ginger beer, but it has a light body and is quite refreshing. And the color speaks for itself (and for the name of the drink).
Surprisingly, the El Diablo is a creation of “Trader Vic” Bergeron, who is mostly known for tiki drinks. But Vic published this recipe in 1946, so it predates the Moscow Mule, a similar ginger beer-based cocktail. It is also something of a surprise to us that the El Diablo is not more popular, but not everyone has crème de cassis or ginger beer hanging around the house. But both ingredients are worthy additions to your bar.
If you are unfamiliar with creme de cassis, it is a sweet blackcurrant liqueur that is most commonly used in the Kir (white wine and a dash of Cassis) and the Kir Royale (Champagne and a dash of Cassis). Kirs are very tasty drinks, and are still popular in France as a pre-dinner apéritif. We drink Kir Royales occasionally, particularly when we want to spruce up average champagne or sparkling wine. And that red color will show through in almost any drink, as will the deep, sweet fruit of the Cassis. Good stuff, and a little goes a long way, one bottle can last for years.
As for ginger beer, it is basically the original ginger ale. It tends to be spicier and less sweet than mass-market ginger ale. A few years ago, ginger beer was hard to find. But as the Dark ‘n Stormy and Moscow Mule have reemerged with the cocktail renaissance, so has ginger beer. Ginger beer is available in most supermarkets and liquors stores and is a good substitute for ginger ale in most recipes.
We became aware of the El Diablo in a Serious Eats slideshow about the drinks at KASK, a bar in Portland. Here is their cocktail menu. (I think a trip to Portland is in order.) After some more research, we found that mixologists have played with the original recipe for years- so while the base flavors of ginger, lime and Cassis are in all recipes, the ratios can vary widely. We like a little more lime and ginger, but other recipes go heavier with the Cassis. The one constant is using 1.5- 2 oz. of blanco tequila. But feel free to play around, these are fun experiments for summer and the flavors play very well together.
The El Diablo:
- 1 and 1/2 oz. blanco tequila
- 3/4 oz. lime juice
- 1/2 oz. crème de cassis
- 3-4 oz. ginger beer (or ginger ale)
- Lime wedge or wheel, for garnish.
- Place tequila, lime juice and Cassis in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Add ginger beer, stir lightly. Garnish with lime wedge and serve.
- Cocktails for Memorial Day: The Presbyterian / The Mamie Taylor (putneyfarm.com)
- Ginger Ale vs. Ginger Beer: What’s the Difference? (thekitchn.com)
- Crème de Cassis de Dijon: The Secret to “Kir” (formaggiokitchen.com)
- Cinco De Mayo Cocktails from Centro Cocina Mexicana (gooddaysacramento.cbslocal.com)
- Cocktails for the History Books, Not the Bar (dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com)
- 15 Fresh, Simple Cocktails for Spring Recipes from The Kitchn (thekitchn.com)