Diablo Cocktail

While I was thinking about what to write, I glanced up and notices my collection of Food & Drink magazines from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). I decided somewhere in one of those magazines there must be something that would inspire me to write. The first issue I pulled out was from the summer of 2004 and had a recipe for the Mint Divine, a rye, mint and lemonade recipe. Basically it’s a whisky sour with mint. Possibly something I could write about, but maybe there was something more interesting in another edition. In the summer 2005 edition of Food & Drink there is a recipe for a drink called the “Diablo.” Now that was interesting and is used tequila, so that is what I’m going to write about. But, there is also a Diablo recipe using brandy, so now it’s even more interesting. I’ve come across the Diablo cocktail before, but never actually tried one. When you look up the recipe though, if you look hard enough, there are a couple of versions. The first one I came across uses white Tequila, Creme de Cassis, lime and ginger ale. The second one uses brandy, vermouth, curacao and bitters. This seems to be one of those modern palette versus classic palette issues. Two types of bitters in one cocktail, amazing. You’re lucky if you can find a bar with bitters in stock these days.

With this discrepancy at hand, I’ve decided that since it is Saturday night, of a long weekend no less, that both of these cocktails should be made and tested. A quick pop over the local variety store and I should have everything I need.

Diablo CocktailFirst up is the classic recipe. This looked like a pretty good recipe with good use of bitters and vermouth. I don’t make too many brandy-based cocktails, but it’s something that I need to do more of because the Diablo is very good. The bitters compliment everything exceptionally well and provide that aromaticity that makes a great cocktail. The brandy is smooth, and the vermouth is complimentary. The orange curacao (Cointreau in this case) provides a nice level of sweetness and gives a subtle orange flavour which is really nice. This cocktail has just jumped into my top five cocktail favourites. I’m impressed, not only because I like it, but as a bartender this is something I can serve to someone who wants to experience a martini like drink and bitters, but doesn’t want the shock value of straight alcohol, even though this drink is pretty much straight alcohol. This is a great introductory cocktail because it isn’t overpowering, but has classic ingredients.

Now I’m kind of disappointed that I started with the classic Diablo recipe, because the modern Diablo can’t be as good, or could it? Worst case scenario, it’s a triple play Saturday and I’ll make another classic Diablo to wash the other one down.

The modern Diablo is basically black currant sweetened tequila with ginger ale.  Creme de cassis is a very sweet black currant liqueur. It goes well with lots of drinks, but in small quantities. The Diablo uses ½ an ounce, so it’s not overpowering. The lime juice will help cut back on the sweetness which helps balance the cocktail. Originally I thought the tequila would be overpowered by the creme de cassis, but I was wrong. The tequila comes through quite strong with the pepper and agave flavours. You can definitely tell that it is a tequila-based drink. The ginger ale sits in the background on this drink. Overall, not a bad drink, but not as good as a classic Diablo.

Both the Diablo recipes are good for specific audiences. The classic version is good for someone moving into the classic cocktail world and the modern Diablo version is a good fruit based tequila cocktail. If someone wants a tequila based drink, I would recommend the Diablo since it’s simple to make and tastes fairly good. If someone wants a classic cocktail or wants to understand the role of bitters better, the classic Diablo is the way to go.

All thumbs up to the classic brandy based Diablo. But now I need to do some research and see how this cocktail originated.

Diablo Cocktail

Tequila 1½ oz
Lime Juice ½ oz
Creme de Cassis ½ oz
Ginger Ale 3 oz


Combine tequila, lime and creme de cassis in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass packed with ice and top with ginger ale.

18 Comments on The Diablo Cocktail

By jimmy patrick on May 21, 2006 12:33 AM

Maybe you could tell us more about the mint devine for the next Mixology Monday! It sounds good to me…

By Darcy on May 21, 2006 8:47 AM

That sounds like a good idea. I didn’t even think about the Mint Divine for Mixology Monday.

By Experiment33 on May 23, 2006 1:21 PM

I’ve been serving the tequila based el diablo to friends for years and it always pleases. This version is the best I’ve tried, but I’ve used the same basic formula many ways trying different flavors for the creme de casis, occasionally subbing vodka for tequila, and sometimes 7-up for ginger ale, really makes it easy to please guests from a home bar.

By erik_flannestad on May 24, 2006 5:12 PM

I was at a MOTAC tequila seminar recently, and Mr. DeGroff made a cocktail he claimed was the orignal tequila sunrise.

If I remember correctly, it was exactly the modern diablo; but, not mixed.

Similar to the recipe on this Cocktail Times page, though I don’t believe he added grenadine and I believe it was over rocks.

By Jamie Boudreau on June 9, 2006 2:07 PM

I believe that you’ve confused the Diabolo with the Diablo. The Diablo, to the best of my knowledge has always been tequila, with the brandy drink you’ve mentioned being the Diabolo. Oh what a difference an “o” makes.

By Darcy on June 9, 2006 6:21 PM

I actually got the Diablo cocktail from CocktailDB. Here’s what I’ve seen for the Diabolo cocktail:

Drinkboy website:

2 oz. rum
1/2 ounces Cointreau
1/2 ounces dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters

From CocktailDB

3/4 oz gin
1 1/2 oz Red Dubonnet
1/4 oz orgeat syrup

Maybe this will require some research and a new post.

By Jamie Boudreau on June 10, 2006 1:06 PM

I’ll email Martin at Cocktaildb and Robert in Seattle and ask what the dillyio is. I found your (Cocktaildb’s)Diab(o)lo recipe in the Savoy, exactly as you’ve printed. Interesting indeed. I’ll let you know when I get a response.

By Jamie Boudreau on June 10, 2006 1:42 PM

I’ve emailed Martin at Cocktaildb to confirm, but it appears he got both recipes from Stan Jones Complete Bar Guide, which although it may be a great source for inspiration, it is a horrible source for accurate recipes. There are so many errors within (an Aviation is Bourbon and grape juice!?!?!?!?!?!) I’ll keep you up to date.

By Darcy on June 10, 2006 6:01 PM

Cool. This is definately going to require a new post. I hate when cocktail names are so close. But the worst offenders are the ones with #1 or #2 appended to the end.

By Jamie Boudreau on June 11, 2006 12:47 PM

Robert can’t remember where he found the recipe as it has been on his site for some time; so that is a dead end. I’ll scour some of my older, obscure books to see if anything shows up as it wasn’t in the usual suspects. It may take a couple of days.

By WaltDe on August 31, 2006 11:19 PM

Keep up the great work on your blog. Best wishes WaltDe

By Laura on April 13, 2007 4:08 PM

Just came across this site- it’s great. The Mint Divine was created by us at The Martini Club, a cocktail development & specialty bar catering company in Toronto, Canada. I invented it as an attempt to get more women drinking whisky. It’s best when made with fresh-pressed lemonade.

By Dominik MJ on April 13, 2007 8:48 PM

Actually, I don’t like mixing vermouth with liqueur. Even worse is dry vermouth with (sweet) liqueur.
And then I condemn Triple Sec Cura̤ao! (I just have Triple Sec for the Long Island Iced Tea variants in my bar Рby the way, I do hate also this drink and it is not on my barlist Рbut if people are ordering it, what to do).
And then I find it disturbing using different bitters. So this drink is not for me!

The modern El Diabolo (I know it also as Mexican El Diabolo): I tried it yesterday at home! Unfortunately, I just had cassis syrup and no liqueur! But it was unbelievable good! I could not believe it, but it tasted just like the tequila. Just for reference, I used Sauza Hornitos… and the whole drink tasted like the burn stripped Hornitos!

All subtle aromas were there – I even could not recognize the ginger ale and just a hint of cassis!

I have to confess – it is now one of my favorite long drinks (I still like short cocktails more than long drinks…)!

By Gordon Smith on May 19, 2007 11:58 AM

My recipe would be:

50 ml Tequila
20 ml cassis
15 ml lime juice
10 ml simple syrup
5 ml ginger syrup (infuse 3 inch ginger root with 200 ml simple syrup)
Top with ginger beer

By Shelly on November 7, 2007 3:01 PM

I had a drink at the cheesecake factory called the Patron El Diablo and would like to have the recipe for a party I am having. Do you know what it is?


By Jon on December 24, 2007 6:46 PM

el diable at cheesecake:

patron silver
sour mix
club soda
grameoney (spelling?) orange liquor
pomegranate juice
grapefruit juice

By Lateefah Brown on June 11, 2008 2:26 AM

I worked at The Cheesecake Factory. They serve a drink called an El Diablo that is made very similarly to a Top Shelf Margarita. The tequila (I like Patron or Tres Generaciones), orange liqueur (try Grand Marnier or Cointreau), and optional dash of simple syrup are all the same as in a Top Shelf Margarita. Just substitute the sweet ‘n’ sour and O.J. for grapefruit juice and pure 100% pomegranate juice. Voila! Even taught the bartender at Buffalo Wild Wings how to make me one tonight. YUM!

By Peter on August 17, 2008 6:12 PM

Lateefah –

Can you give me the ratios on those ingredients? I had two of the Patron El Diablo last night and want to make a batch at home!


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