The Mexican El Diablo is my favorite drink.

No, really. When made with the right ginger beer, fresh lime juice, creme de cassis and a blanco tequila, I would rather drink this than anything else. I first learned about this drink at a two-day long bar training seminar organized by former managers at The Drake Hotel when I was making the move from barback to bartender. Jay and Dushan walked the staff through basics the first day and actual cocktails the second. They presented three or four classics and they also showed three or four Employee’s Only drinks.

This one stuck out for me, because given the colour and the ingredients (at this time I was all bourbon and vermouth) seemed like nothing I would ever want in my mouth. This drink is so spicy and sweet and tart that it leaves an impression on your palate akin to the feeling you get in your knees after leaning on an electric fence (I grew up in and around the sticks).

I love it and no matter what fancy bar I go to with whatever impressive cocktail program they feature, I almost always order an El Diablo.

photograph by Jessica Blaine Smith