Bonus Cocktail: El Diablo

El Diablo cocktail.

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.

El Diablo and ingredients.

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.

Trader Vic wasn’t just about rum.

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.


  1. 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.

107 thoughts on “Bonus Cocktail: El Diablo

  1. I can’t wait to make this! I love ginger beer and am always on the lookout for new ways to use it. This also serves as a fun excuse to buy and try some creme de cassis! Thanks–

    • Yes, different drink but would prolly be very good. Chambord has more depth than cassis (IMHO) but would do well with lime and ginger.

      Thanks for reading.

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  3. This blog reminds me just how much I love and miss Campari and soda with a wedge of fresh lime. Must go and stock the bar. Nice recipes and congrats on FP! Please go check out my blog/world. 😉

  4. Sweet it sounds delicious and a great summer cocktail. This will help me at home as well my wife keeps saying “you drink to much beer”, now I have this as an alternative. I think that is what she meant….

    • Ha. Sometimes the “spirit” of the law is better than the letter of the law…a cocktail certainly isn’t a beer. (Although nothing wrong with a nice, cold beer either..;-)

    • Thanks for reading.

      Chambord should work. Any sweet dark red/black fruit liqueur is worth a try.

      Technically without Cassis it may be a different drink, but the elements of sweet liqueur, lime and ginger (with a base spirit) is a good foundation to experiment with. Just go easy on the sweet liqueur…

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    • Good call. Have seen a variant with peppers- just muddle and construct the rest of the drink. I would consider using reposado tequila in that version to offset some of the grassy flavors of pepper. Should be good.

      BTW- Lived in Rowayton for years (still many friends/family in area). Can’t wait to read more of your blog!

  7. I’ll give it a try! I am looking for ginger beer anyway for a different recipe using Mr. Pimms for an ice tea type cocktail. This sounds great and love the color. I have been experimenting with cocktails this month as Sunset Magazine had a few fun ones to try! I’m in the mode… 🙂

  8. I feel like I need to update you on this: tried it. Favorite new drink! Our grocery store can’t figure out why, suddenly, there’s an increased in demand for ginger beer, though they’re trying…(remember, I live in a very small town). Highly recommended, two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

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