The Cocktail College Podcast: How to Make the Perfect El Diablo

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On this episode of “Cocktail College,” host Tim McKirdy is joined by bartender and hospitality pro Josue Gonzalez of Unfiltered Hospitality in Miami. The two explore the El Diablo, a tequila cocktail making a comeback. They discuss El Diablo’s tiki origins, the proper way to construct this drink, and how to maybe add a twist to this fiery cocktail. Tune in to learn more.

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Josue Gonzalez’s El Diablo Recipe

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ¼ ounces Tequila Blanco, such as Don Fulano’s Fuerte
  • ½ ounce crème de cassis, such as Giffard’s
  • 3 ounces ginger beer
  • Lime wheel, candied ginger, and a Filthy cherry to garnish

Directions

  1. Combine lime juice, crème de cassis, and tequila in a cocktail shaker with two ice cubes. (Optional: Substitute crème de cassis with strawberry syrup for a sweeter flavor).
  2. Shake until cold and strain into a highball glass.
  3. Top up with ginger beer and crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel, candied ginger, and skewered Filthy cherry.

Check Out the Conversation Here

Tim McKirdy: This is “The Cocktail College” podcast coming at you from Miami and New York today. And we are joined by the wonderful Josue Gonzalez, otherwise known as Josue All Day. How’s it going, man?

Josue Gonzalez: Oh, it’s going great. It’s going really, really well. It’s a beautiful day here in Miami.

T: I tell you what, it’s a beautiful day here in New York as well, but the temperature’s just starting to drop a little. And after a bit of a scorchio summer, everyone’s pretty happy about that.

J: Yeah. I kind of envy you for that. Miami is hot and hot as hell. I really enjoy the fall season. I think that’s my favorite season.

T: Oh man. Fall or spring, those transitions, I’m down for either of them. They’re so good.

J: Yeah. Transitioning, we don’t have that here in Miami. It’s just summer all year. And then right now is when the showers are starting to come. It’ll rain for 20 minutes and then it’ll be sunny, and then it’ll rain for 45 minutes, and then it’ll be sunny for two hours. And then you’re just going through the cycle.

T: Just going through that. You know what? I used to have that when I lived in Cambodia and it was very weird. Things dried off real quick.

J: It’s terrible for my hair. It’s super curly. Man, this humidity is killing me.

T: Josue, we’re in exactly the same boat there. The humidity kills me and then I have to use more product. Anyway, weather and hair are things I could talk about all day.

J: I know. You have a great head of hair, man. I checked you out.

T: I checked you out too. Here’s something we need to figure out off the bat here, though, for this one. You’re a Spanish speaker, I’m a Spanish speaker as well here. The cocktail today is El Diablo. And I often see it written out The El Diablo.

J: They’re talking about me.

T: Which just doesn’t make sense. So what are we going with today? Are we going with The Diablo or are we going with El Diablo? Because we gotta figure this out.

J: We are definitely, undeniably going to go with El Diablo.

T: Perfecto.

J: Because that’s just the way it is. It’s El Diablo. It’s not the devil.

T: Exactly. And I was going to follow up there with that one for you in case anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish, the cocktail of course does mean the devil, the name El Diablo. For anyone unaware, can you start by telling us what is in this drink? What makes it up?

J: So this cocktail right now, if you were to order it at a bar, you would get it with tequila, lime, ginger beer, and crème de cassis. So it’s essentially a Tequila Mule with a little twist.

T: And you said if you were to order this now. In terms of bars and current popularity, is this one that I can expect to go into most bars and order and they’re going to say, “Yeah. El Diablo, one coming right up now,” or is this one that maybe the bartender’s going to have to pull out their phone and do some research?

J: No, it’s funny that you mentioned that. For sure. I actually have been ordering them recently. Who knew that I’d be ordering El Diablos? And every bartender looks at me and some of them are like, “Oh yeah, I think I know that one.” And then some of them are just like, “Ah, okay.” And then they turn around and then you see them hide in the corner with their phone out. They’re like, “What is this?” But the majority of them have heard it already. So I think it’s coming about again and people are starting to familiarize themselves with it again.

T: And when you’re in that situation, question here for you, are you ever tempted to just turn around and be like, “You know what? I can have something else.” You can expect most bartenders to be able to look at the spec and pull it off. But if that’s maybe their first time making it or they haven’t made it in a long time. I had this recently, I ordered a Cameron’s Kick somewhere and the bartender did exactly the same thing. And I got to say, it was a little disappointing, the cocktail that made it my way in the end.

J: Really?

T: And it’s a great bar. And I think, you know what, I know that’s not a cocktail that-

J: Is the Cameron’s Kick similar to the… It has allspice and…

T: No, it’s a different one. It’s an Irish Whiskey cocktail. I’m forgetting all the components now. I believe it might have… It’s got orgeat. It’s a shaken whiskey cocktail with orgeat.

J: Yeah. Actually, you know what? I do remember that. Yeah. That’s one that for sure, I would be like, “I don’t know. I’m going to figure that out, whatever.”

T: Yeah, I know. We had run an article about it on VinePair, so I was like, “I’m keen to have this,” and then felt a little disappointed. So yeah, what are you doing in that situation?

J: One of my favorite things about bartending and the network that we have now is that we can communicate with so many people and we have everything in the world in our pocket. I can find out whatever I need to know at any given moment. So somebody comes up to you and they order something that you don’t know, it’s an exciting opportunity to get to know them, get to know why they’re ordering it, to learn that thing. And then if you like it, share it with others.

T: And El Diablo, what is it apart from a wonderful evocative name there? What is it that makes this cocktail most notable for you?

J: For me, I would have to say that the thing that I like the most about it is what people don’t like the most about it, which is the crème de cassis. And I don’t actually like crème de cassis, but I like the idea of putting crème de cassis in a cocktail that has ginger beer and tequila and lime to kind of soften it up, to hide some of those sharp ginger notes, to make the cocktail balanced. Because you have a Moscow Mule and they could be really good or they could be really bad. So you’re adding a little spice element to it that helps make the cocktail a little bit more refined, I guess. Palatable.

T: Yeah. I’m so glad that that’s the component there that you mentioned, because it really does strike you as kind of an outlier. I mean, there’s some things about this cocktail. There’s not that many quote unquote “classics” that use tequila as the base spirit. But then you look at those ingredients. Okay. Tequila and lime, those work together. Ginger beer or ginger ale, I can see why that would work, especially with the lime, but I don’t often see it with tequila. Then crème de cassis just kind of stands out as like, “How the hell did that make it in there?”

J: Exactly. Like, what?

The History of El Diablo

T: Can you tell us about that history? Is there any known history of this drink and how all those components first came together?

J: Yes. Actually, this cocktail is actually really interesting and I have my own theory too. I’ll tell you the history of it. And then I’ll give you my little fun theory. But it’s a very old cocktail. And by very old, I mean it came about in the 1940s. It was a Trader Vic cocktail. And he actually used to call it the Mexican El Diablo. So he had a longer name for it. It was in some of his books and it wasn’t really popular. Nobody was really ordering them and it kind of vanished for a little bit. And then it reemerged in the 1960s at his Mexican chain, Señor Pico. And the original recipe actually called for ginger ale. It was not as sweet and loose as it is today. It was a lot tighter and it was a lot sharper, and the ginger component was closer to what a ginger beer is nowadays. Which is why now it is ginger beer instead of ginger ale. I also found a few things that said that it was a low-ABV cocktail. It only had an ounce of tequila in it. It was supposed to be a very refreshing, low-ABV thing. It was the predecessor to the low-ABV trend. He was just a little bit ahead of his time.

T: Well ahead of his time. And you know, Trader Vic, so oftentimes you find those tiki or tropical drinks to be, of course, brimming with flavor, tons of ingredients, but oftentimes on the boozier side. So it’s interesting. It’s an interesting outlier in that front too.

J: At first you’re like, “Oh, well, is this a tiki cocktail? Is it not?” And I think it is, because it doesn’t have rum or two rums, but it has two things that have ABV in them. And then you have your classic sour build and you have the spice of ginger. You know that in ginger, you get a lot of different flavors than just the ginger. You get spice, you get warmth. And then the cassis is really what would be the allspice dram or the pimento or whatever in a modern-day tiki cocktail. The cassis is made from blackcurrant. So it’s not a sweet berry, it’s a sharp kind of bitter. So it brings that spice element that you’d see in the tiki-style cocktails where you have some cool spirit. Now, because he’s not using rum, he’s using tequila, tequila can compare to some agricole-style rums.

T: Yep. For sure. Or even… I don’t know whether we want to discuss this later, too, in terms of switching out some of the ingredients, but oftentimes I do say to people, if they love mezcal, I’ll often say, “You should get into agricole.” Because I think there’s many similarities there. Okay, you can move beyond the smoke, but I think most people that do love mezcal don’t really think of the smoke.

J: Yeah.

T: It’s like, “Okay, yeah,” it’s just accepted that that’s in there, but it’s the other profile that they’re looking for. And I think there’s many similarities there with agricole.

J: Yeah, I’m the opposite. I love agricole and I’m whatever about mezcal. Unless it’s a really cool and weird mezcal that isn’t very smoky. The smoke for me has just never been a thing. I’m not a huge whiskey drinker, either.

T: Yeah. Well, I think that’s something that I’ve encountered as well with mezcal where it’s the best ones I’ve had, the smoke’s been a component of it, it’s been present, but it hasn’t overtaken everything else. And I think that’s obvious, right? That’s what a great example of that spirit looks like. But I think the mass market, relatively speaking, the mass-market mezcals, I don’t know whether they just dial into that profile because it basically has this reputation as smoky tequila so they’re just being like, “That’s what people expect so that’s what we’re going to give them.” And I really don’t think it’s a good representation of what the spirit category is.

J: No. No, I don’t think so, either.

T: But we do get off topic there.

J: Oh, yeah. We’re talking about mezcal. Oh, this is a…

T: Well, not too far off topic. And that keeps it on brand for us at least. But I will say I’m glad that we’re covering this cocktail today because recently on VinePair, one of our writers, Robert Simonson, who’s very well known in the industry, he had written about how El Diablo is quietly making a comeback and becoming a lot more popular. Robert, of course, also wrote his tequila agave cocktails book recently, which is wonderful. You should check it out. But is that something you’re seeing, too, maybe a kind of quiet renaissance? Did that factor into why you wanted to speak about that drink today? Not the piece, but just anything happening currently?

J: Well, I have seen it around. And then sometimes you don’t notice things when they’re right underneath your nose, and here in Miami, we drink a lot of tequila. So I feel like part of the reason, and I actually read the article the other day and I wholeheartedly agree that the reason that this cocktail is making a comeback and is having a resurgence is because agave spirits are hot. Maybe not all around the United States, but here in Miami, it is a tequila town. Everybody is all about the tequilas.

T: Oh, let me tell you, brother, it’s all around the United States. I’m seeing this in terms of sales data you see out there. I mean, it’s inching closer and closer ever to vodka and whiskey. And it’s all you hear people talking about, too, just anecdotally, it’s just agave tequila.

J: Yeah. And it’s great because I love the category. And you can only make so many Margaritas and Paloma variations before you’re like, “All right, well we need to do something else because…” You know?

T: Yeah.

J: And the Tequila Sunrise is great, but not really.

T: Yeah. It’s like, ooh.

J: That actually hits me home because I used to drink tequila sunrises when I first started drinking. So that’s an oof.

T: I love how that drink looks, though.

J: It looks great. I wish I knew about El Diablo, it would’ve been way more appropriate and delicious.

T: Yeah. A hundred percent. And I can’t remember, Robert did write something in that article similar to this, and I apologize for this now, but El Diablo is kind of this hybrid of a number of those drinks there, with the ginger beer being something that’s maybe different. But it’s a highball. It’s definitely more.

J: Let me tell you about my theory about Trader Vic’s and how he really created El Diablo

T: Oh, yeah, please do.

J: He was enjoying a Shirley Temple. I know this guy, he loves Shirley Temples. What is your build on the Shirley Temple?

T: I actually don’t have one.

J: Are you a ginger ale guy or are you a Sprite guy?

T: So, having not grown up here in the U.S., I’ve actually never had a Shirley Temple nor a Dirty Shirley.

J: Wait, but the Dirty Shirley just had its big debut. Wasn’t it recently just the drink of the summer?

T: Allegedly.

J: Allegedly. That was preposterous.

T: You were about to tell us.

J: But most people, I think, drink it with grenadine and a little bit of Sprite. And then there’s some people like myself who like it with ginger ale. And then you can also mix the both. But I just feel like he was having a Shirley Temple one day and somebody spilled a little tequila in it and he was like, “Oh, this is pretty good, but it’s not good enough. How do we make this more my style?” So then he’s like, “Well, I want to give it some ABV and give it that Tiki-esque, but I still want it to emulate these flavors that I’m getting from the grenadine, but I’m not going to put grenadine in it.” So that’s where the cassis came about, where he was like, “Oh, okay, we’re going to do a little cassis and then tequila, lime, and the ginger ale and it’s like an elevated Shirley Temple with tequila.”

T: That’s amazing. I’m telling you now, this sounds like a very plausible theory. I’m wondering when you say that, did they have brand reps back in his day as well? And maybe someone brought around a bottle of tequila and he was like, “Okay, I got to use it.”

J: He’s like, “I got to drink this.”

T: “I’ve got this lying around, I got to use it in something.”

J: Yeah. He’s like, “Oh, well, I’m not going to sell this. I’m going to drink it.”

T: So he just sticks it in his Shirley, makes El Diablo.

J: Yeah, he was having a really tough day. And he was like, “Oh, I’m going to put a little tequila in my Shirley Temple today.”

T: I don’t get the impression Trader Vic ever had a bad day.

J: That may be so.

T: I’m not sure.

J: I mean, he did have one leg.

T: Well, yeah, no. I mean more just in terms of the drinks that he created definitely seem to be this personality that’s very, I don’t know, just a very positive outlook there, when you look at his drinks.

J: Oh, he was a genius.

Ingredients Used in Josue Gonzalez’s El Diablo

T: So if we’re dialing into some more specifics here, we’ve listed the ingredients. Some of these can maybe skew a little sweet, so I’m wondering, what are you looking for in terms of the final flavor profile of this drink? What does a perfectly executed version look, taste, feel like to you?

J: Okay. There’s a few ways you can actually make this cocktail. Sometimes… Well actually, we’re going to get to that in a second, right?

T: Mm-hmm.

J: Let me just tell you what I’m looking for, which is balance. That’s one of the biggest things that is important with this cocktail. And that’s why the cassis is important, because sometimes ginger beer can be too spicy or you can add too much ginger beer and the cocktail’s not balanced enough. So I believe that if it’s very, very cold and then you have just the right amount of balance, because the cassis if you do too much, can also ruin the drink. It’ll take it too fruity and sharp in one way, and then it’ll overpower everything just like the ginger beer. And this is why this cocktail is a very good cocktail.

T: That’s wonderful. Yeah. I mean, balance, it’s always, isn’t it? It’s one of the fundamentals. It’s what you’re looking for with drinks, but sometimes it can skew either side, maybe slightly sweet or slightly sour. Who knows? Acidic. But you said there’s techniques for doing so and for achieving that balance. But before we do, let’s dial into the ingredients a little bit more. Let’s explore each one of these. Tequila is the base spirit, of course, as we mentioned. First of all, are we sticking with blanco here?

J: I think you definitely have to stick with blanco. I mean, you can do a repo sometimes if you’re doing a really fun variation that might need that added flavor from the wood or those characters. But this cocktail is already so bold where it already has such impactful flavors. And then if you’re going to do a riff on it and you’re going to create some kind of berry syrup, or you’re going to do a ginger syrup and use soda water instead of using a ginger beer, that’s already a lot of flavor. You don’t need to put an aged spirit in here. The tequila, it needs to stand up to it and it needs to stand up for itself and carry all these flavors.

T: Yeah, and I feel like as well, as soon as you start aging tequila, if anything, you’re kind of taming the spirit.

J: Yeah.

T: And really, that’s going to make it more muted in this drink.

J: Exactly. And then you could also maybe do a cristalino because that’s going to have some of those blanco characteristics and then have a little bit of the mouthfeel of a reposado or añejo. But that would have to be a very delicate, more highball style El Diablo, where you do some kind of bitters or shrub that has all the components that are in the cocktail and then you just do a lot of soda water. So it’s the accent of El Diablo. And then you do a Cristalino tequila, which will play with both well.

T: I got a question for you about cristalino, because I’m by no means one of these dogmatic agave heads, you know what I mean? And I find them quite frankly, to be very, very boring for the most part. But I’ll say this, what’s the reputation there and the reaction to cristalino in Miami?

J: Oh, we love it.

T: Because I think we can chat about New York in a bit, but people love it? All right. Tell me about that.

J: People love it. Here’s the thing. You eat and drink what you like and don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise, because we all come from different backgrounds, different cultures. I grew up in Cuba. I didn’t eat a lot of the things I eat now growing up as a child, because even though I moved here when I was 5 and my family, we were living here in Miami, we still had the mentality and the customs of Cuba. So I’ll still go to my mom’s house for dinner and there’s like, the salad is composed of three vegetables and it’s just like, okay, cool, there’s just protein and starch. I love it. The food’s delicious. I’m not complaining. But it’s just different. You don’t have a range. People have different likes and dislikes. So at the end of the day, if you want this very highly vanilla, kind of sweet tequila, okay. Your money’s still good here. Cool. Enjoy that. If you’re open to be educated and try a few things and expand your range, cool, even better, then we can maybe hang out. But whatever, let people drink and eat whatever they want.

T: I just don’t get the argument of people being like, “Oh, it’s not traditional.” Well, neither is extra añejo.

J: ​​Yeah. I mean, a tradition is made over time. So yeah, it’s not traditional right now, but we can make it a tradition. 10,000 years from now, something else is going to be a tradition that wasn’t then.

T: Yeah. And also, as I understand it, it’s very popular in Mexico as well. So I don’t know.

J: Right. But there’s a lot of brands actually coming out with cristalinos right now. It’s every day you hear of a new person coming out with a cristalino tequila.

T: Yeah. I think I heard a fairly big one recently. I think Espolòn just added one. But yeah, like you say, everyone’s coming out with those now. And I bet that Espolòn is going to sell so well, because anecdotally, that seems to be a very, very popular brand as well. And one that maybe kind of flies under the radar, just in terms of people realizing how big its sales are.

J: Yeah. I mean, I’ve only tried a few and I haven’t disliked the ones that I’ve had done. Don Julio 70 has been around forever and that one’s delicious. Herradura Ultra, that’s a guilty pleasure shot right there, because it tastes like marshmallows. And not too sweet marshmallows, just the right amount of marshmallow.

T: But again, yeah, maybe it’s not the one for this cocktail, but I do think that… Here’s the other thing: People are afraid oftentimes to form their own opinion. So I feel like a lot of times you could speak to bartenders and ask about cristalino and a lot of them would be like, “Nah, this is terrible. It’s disgusting.” And A) how much cristalino have you actually drunk? And B) is that your opinion or are you saying that because you think that’s what you’re supposed to think?

J: No, that’s a very valid point right there.

T: And I’m just like, “Try it.” You say, it goes back to exactly what you said, if you like it, drink it. If you don’t, let someone else. I don’t know. There’s thousands and thousands of booze brands out there. But anyway, that’s my little rant for now. We might get one in later, who knows?

J: I agree. But the thing is also that maybe it doesn’t work in the way that you’re currently drinking it. Maybe try doing something else to drink it. A cristalino makes an amazing Espresso Martini.

T: Yeah. That makes so much sense. And also Espresso Martini, trending. Tequila, trending.

J: Oh man.

T: Combine the two. Fire.

J: You go into any bar or restaurant and half of the drinks anywhere are Espresso Martinis.

T: It’s kind of wild. If we’re looking back to blanco, though, what are you looking for? Are you looking for… Sometimes we do talk about highland, lowland, whatever flavor profiles. I prefer to look at tequilas just purely in terms of more fruity and floral or more vegetable and savory.

J: Yeah. Well, for everybody out there, the lowlands or the Tequila Valley, they’re a little bit earthy, peppery, or they have an herbal taste. It’s volcanic soil. And then the highlands, which is what I actually would recommend for this cocktail, is a little bit softer, rounder, more fruity, like you were saying, floral. And I think a highland tequila would go well with this cocktail because of the same thing that I was saying earlier; there’s already a lot of really bold flavors here. But then again, you can also say a lowland tequila as well because you want it to stand up to those bold flavors. So I guess it really depends on what your intention is with the drink and where you’re going to take it.

T: It reminds me of the concept of food pairing. You’re either going for opposites attract or like for like. And it feels like with this drink, you can go for either with the profile of tequila.

J: Correct. If you’re going to make a very intense El Diablo with ginger syrup instead of a ginger beer and soda water, then you feel like the ginger’s going to be a little bit more pronounced. And maybe you’re making a homemade berry syrup with different kinds of berries in it so it’s a little bit more sweet and floral. Then you might want to do a lowland tequila that it’s going to have a little bit more impact in the cocktail and it’s going to be able to stand up to all those flavors. But if you’re going to do something like maybe you’re going to clarify the cocktail and carbonate it, then I would go with a highland that’s going to be a lot softer because your end goal is that you’re going to clarify it, because why? You want to smoothen it out, because you want to clarify it.

T: Force carbonate it.

J: Force carbonate it. So you need something that’s going to be a little softer and is going to fit more the theme of your outcome.

T: Mm-hmm. That’s wonderful. And then if we can move on from there, to crème de cassis. First of all, not an ingredient you see deployed all that often. There is another classic with it. What is it?

J: Kir Royale.

T: Kir Royale. That’s the one. Yeah. Always good if you get one of these more niche ingredients that you can have at least two drinks for, because I feel like if it’s just one, that cocktail needs to be an absolute banger or it’s maybe not deserving of the shelf space.

J: That’s true. But you can also, if you don’t have crème de cassis, you can use Chambord. It’ll change the flavor profile a little bit more because Chambord has vanilla and different berries. It’s like raspberry and blackberry, where crème de cassis is just blackcurrant. So they’re the same, same but different.

T: And so, it’s a blackcurrant liqueur. In terms of flavor profile, what are we talking about here? And ABV as well.

J: So it’s a liqueur, so it’s definitely got a lower ABV. I believe it’s in the 20s. I actually don’t know. And then the flavor profile, currants aren’t really a thing that Americans eat, or at least Floridians.

T: No.

J: I actually had a currant for the first time two months ago; we were doing a tasting for a concept that we’re doing in Tampa that’s called Boulon. It’s going to be a French brasserie. It was a Bellini riff and we’re garnishing it with currants. And it’s beautiful because you have this beautiful Bellini-style cocktail and then you have the little currants, they’re just hanging from the side of the glass.

T: Nice.

J: And it’s like, “Oh, wow, cool.” And they match the color of the cocktail. And it’s also something that people don’t really see here often. So it’s like, “Oh, this is kind of cool.” But when you bite one, it’s sharp, bitter, and very astringic. It definitely has the berry notes, but you anticipate it being sweet when it’s really not.

T: It’s so interesting when you try a number of those ingredients. I think there’s a number of ingredients out there like that, maybe more in wine, but also spirits, we assign tasting notes to, but people probably don’t really actually eat them in real life. Or even just these natural flavored drinks or whatever you have, and you’re like, “I’ve never had a cherry that tastes like that,” but we associate the flavor with something that we probably never or very rarely eat in real life. It’s kind of crazy.

J: That’s true. The only way to define that is you have to taste things constantly, because your palate’s changing, your perception of things are changing. And one very important thing that I’ll say is that people don’t take into consideration emotion when they’re tasting food. You can be so controlled and have something like Shake Shack and McDonald’s where it’s like that consistency. But I mean, I’ll go to Shake Shack often enough and they’re not always the same.

T: No.

J: And sometimes the variable is me. Maybe I’m in a great mood that day and it tastes better, or maybe I’m in a bad mood and it tastes better. Or what did I eat earlier? Or there’s a bunch of other things that you can ensure that it’s going to be the same every single time.

T: And on the crème de cassis front there, is there any one kind of recognized brand? Or what are you looking for there? Do you have one to recommend? You don’t have to. But sometimes you’ll talk about these liqueur categories and it’s almost a category of one, in some cases.

J: I don’t, actually. Off the top of my head, I can just tell you which brands I have behind the bars that I work with.

T: So it’s not one of those ones, like for example, I don’t know, this isn’t a good example, but I’m talking about the Irish cream liqueur category or whatever, we’re basically talking about Baileys, right?

J: ​​Yeah. That’s the thing.

T: Or like, Chambord, like you said.

J: It’s not impactful enough, the crème de cassis, because there’s like two or three people that make them. They’re probably all French.

T: Yep.

J: So it’s like, okay, whatever.

T: What is it? Giffard, Giffard, I’m not sure exactly how you pronounce it.

J: I love the Giffard stuff. I love Giffard. But I mean, I’m not going to knock Giffard by saying that the other one tastes just as good.

T: Yeah.

J: Whatever. This is not a make or break for me. And then what comes down to it is, if I was going to put this cocktail on a menu and I wanted to be intentful with it, then I would be like, “All right, cool, let’s try all these cassises and see which one we are going to use.” Or I would also probably not use full cassis. I’d probably maybe use a little bit of cassis in a cordial that I would make with some berries or wherever I want to take the cocktail.

T: And it’s the interaction with the other ingredients. It depends on the tequila you’re using and the other ingredients that we’re going to come up to here. Let’s go lime next. Go as deep as you want on that one. I got a couple of follow-up questions, but what are you thinking when it comes to lime in this cocktail?

J: Always fresh. This cocktail doesn’t require that much lime because you do have the ginger component, so it’s not going to need that much lime. I would say depending on how much cassis you’re going to add, which is normally a little quarter, half, depending on how big the glass you’re doing, if you’re doing a short one or a tall one. Normally, you get it in a tall glass. You should get it in a highball. But yeah, fresh lime juice all the way, man. But what’s cool is that you can also sub out the lime for lemon or any other citrus if you want to do a variation. I just feel like if you go into the grapefruit territory, then it starts to become too much like a Paloma.

T: Yep. Yeah. That’s a good point.

J: And then orange, then you go into tequila sunrise territory. So the lemon is good, because it could be a little lighter. Make it a little bit more floral if you’re doing less ginger beer or maybe you’re doing split ginger beer, split soda.

T: Yeah. And I think I do recall, again, that Robert Simonson article I mentioned earlier. I believe Garrett Richard down in Sunken Harbor Club was quoted in that saying that he believes one of the good decisions when making this is subbing out the lime for lemon. I find that interesting just because of the other components there. Lime seems to be a better partner or a more common partner for tequila and ginger. I find that interesting. I’ve never had it made with lemon, so I’d be interested in that.

J: I actually love subbing lemon for lime and vice versa in cocktails just to see how it works. And then especially if you’re going to do a riff on something or if you’re going to change the cocktail a little bit and it requires lime. Most rum cocktails require lime just like most tequila cocktails require lime. But if you’re making a rum cocktail that you want other flavors to shine, you take away the lime and put lemon and then it amplifies those other flavors. And then it’s less Daiquiri-esque and more whatever cocktail you’re trying to make, the same thing with a Margarita. Any tequila sour that you make with lime is essentially a variation of a Margarita, so if you switch out the lime component and use lemon, then you have yourself a Daisy or whatever.

T: Yeah. That’s a really fun one for people to try at home there. Just any of those probably mainly shaken drinks, just switch one for the other and taste how it comes out. That’s pretty fun.

J: Or marrying the two, doing a split base lemon lime. For Pisco Sours, that’s my favorite thing to do, not go full lime or full lemon, just do a little bit, half-ounce lemon, half-ounce lime, 1 ounce simple syrup, 2 ounces of pisco, egg white, and shake the hell out of it.

T: Nice. And talk about a drink, by the way, that’s hiding under your nose, but I think that the Pisco Sour, I don’t know, we’ve spoken about it a little bit before recently, but I feel like that’s one that’s definitely quietly trending right now. I’m seeing menus of Pisco Sours crop up.

J: It’s one of my top three cocktails.

T: How is that in terms of popularity down there in Miami?

J: It’s pretty popular down here as well. There’s a few Peruvian spots. Peruvian cuisine is one of my favorites. And it’s very integral to the Miami scene.

T: Great, great drink there. One of the other questions I had for you about lime, which has come up again, this is a topic that keeps coming up, is super lime juice. How do you feel about this concept?

J: It has its place. And it’s even super juice. We work with this company called Sour AF and I think my partner Gui talked about this when he did the Caipirinha episode.

T: That’s correct, yeah.

J: And essentially it’s just a way to help elongate the life of your citrus, your program. Maybe not every cocktail needs the fresh lime juice. Maybe you can use a citric acid solution like Sour AF or use a super juice. It’s all about intention and what you’re trying to achieve. Sometimes just because it was written this way in this really old book doesn’t mean it tastes good right now.

T: No, it’s so interesting. I think Gui probably was the first guest we had that brought up that topic, and then ever since then it keeps cropping up every now and again. More recently we had Harrison Snow on here from Lullaby in New York and he was speaking about it and he was saying, “Actually, this is how we’re going to be doing our Daiquiris from here on.” I was like, “Really?” And he said, “You gotta come down and try it.” And so later on, I did go down and try it and I’ve got to say it was a phenomenal Daiquiri.

J: Yeah. I mean, you just know how to work with it.

T: It’s finding that balance again, right?

J: You find that balance with the rum dynamic. There’s different rums that are a little bit more floral, a little bit sweeter, that are not aged. Or they are aged, but they’re not…

T: And then, all right, you’ve mentioned it multiple times. Something I can never quite get my head around, what is the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer? And you mentioned where to go in ginger beer here. So they’re not interchangeable.

J: Well, now they’re not. I actually might like the cocktail with ginger ale better than ginger beer, but then you would have to increase the lime because the ginger ale tends to be a little bit sweeter than the ginger beer. But ginger beer is just more intense ginger ale.

T: Okay. All right. That makes sense.

J: Yeah. It’s not actually beer. There’s no ABV, although that would be nice.

T: Yes. No, that would be delicious. There was an alcoholic version that was big. I mean, ginger beer is very big in the U.K. And I think that that’s why the concept of ginger ale to me is just a little bit more alien, because we drink a lot of ginger beer and we go for the real fiery stuff. I think there’s a Jamaican brand, like Old Jamaican or something might even be the brand. We drink a lot of it. There was an alcoholic version that came out, I want to say 2012 or something, around then. And it was very, very popular. It’s a great drink.

J: Was it so popular that it’s not around anymore? What happened?

T: Well, you know, trends change. It was a movement at the time where ciders that people thought were craft were big, so like your Magners and your Thatchers. And someone had come up with this idea, you pour it over ice, so then that became the biggest trend. And then they moved on to fruit ciders, like Rekorderlig that were really sweet. And these might all be alien names to anyone listening, because I don’t know whether any of them eventually made it over the pond over here. And I think that was an extension of the trend. And I think probably people just got a bit fed up with all these different basically spiked beverages. They were good, though. It was a good moment.

J: Yeah. That’s amazing. I would’ve loved to have tried all these ginger products.

T: You love ginger products.

J: I love ginger products. I drink ginger tea every night.

T: Oh, it’s wonderful. So what about that? You mentioned a few times here that you might go down the route of a ginger syrup instead, and then using soda. What are the advantages there and how might you go about that?

J: Well, with the ginger syrup, you can control the brix in the cocktail. So like with the ginger beer, you buy the ginger beer and it’s already made, so whatever brix and how much sugar that has, you have to take account for that. With the syrup, you can control the intensity of the ginger. Because you also have a range of ginger beers. Some are more intense, some are less intense. Maybe the cocktail, the outcome that you want, doesn’t fit those, so you make a ginger syrup with the amount of ginger that you want. And then with that, you can also add other flavors to it. We actually have a variation of the El Diablo at one of our concepts, it’s called La Diablita, so it’s the little girl devil. And then we actually, instead of using ginger beer, we make a ginger syrup with blackberries. And then instead of using the crème de cassis, we’re using a little apricot liqueur. So Giffard Apricot.

T: Nice.

J: And then we keep it true with the 1 ounce of tequila, because this was meant to be, I think, a low-ABV cocktail, like I discussed earlier. And then just serve it on a rocks glass with crushed ice and it comes out beautiful. A little fun, fruity, you’ve got a little bit of that stone fruit flavor that melds really well with the berry.

T: That sounds amazing.

J: And we actually, give a splash of soda water just to give it a little bit of that body.

T: And is this syrup, if you were looking at the classic El Diablo but you were making the syrup for it, is that something where you might be tempted to bring in, I don’t know, things like star anise, cinnamon, cloves, things like that that might take it in that more tiki direction?

J: Definitely. I mean, we don’t actually do it with this one because this is a very high-volume place, so that’s also part of the reason for the syrup is instead of popping a bunch of ginger beers, eliminate that component, and make it a quick pickup cocktail. But yeah, I love making super-complicated syrups, but let’s also remember that this is a business, and who’s making the syrup, the barback that’s high or me? So I made it good the first time, but after a few times of it being made and passed down. Listen, I’m all about systems and I have a recipe sheet that if you follow it, it’s going to come out perfect. But come on, who follows a recipe perfectly?

T: I saw that happen so often when I worked in kitchens. And it didn’t help that our head chef would launch menus without writing recipes. I have no idea why he did that. I think it was just to f*ck with us, but-

J: He’s like, “Figure it out.”

T: Exactly. I can guarantee that every single new menu launched, there were five or six different components across the menu that he would make. The first time we would have them, we would be like, “This is amazing.” And by week two-

J: Something’s going on.

T: Yeah, something was a very, very diluted version of what he had done originally. And you’re like, “Okay, maybe we’ve got to scratch this now.” Maybe we’ve got to start again.

J: And listen, I’m not knocking it. I love making fun and cool syrups and things like that, but they all have their place. And I feel like this cocktail is a really great cocktail for a volume bar. And it’s also not too crazy. You just make things nice.

T: Maybe that’s if you’re doing the kind of cocktail competition route, if you’re doing that-

J: Yeah, for sure. Then let’s go. Yeah, “I’m serving it on Jesus’ sandal. Here you go. I’m using moon dust instead of salt.” I know this cocktail doesn’t get salt, but it has tequila in it, so it has to have salt, right?

T: Yeah. Well, we’ve had guests as well argue that every single cocktail or on a, I don’t know, case-by-case basis, but 90 percent of cocktails might be improved by some saline or whatever. I don’t know. It’s a school of thought.

J: I do agree with that. Yeah. We have saline solutions at all our bars. So if you feel like it needs a little dash, it’s one, two.

T: Yeah. Stick it in there.

J: But just like food needs salt, cocktails need sugar. And one of the things about tequila drinkers is that most people are drinking tequila because they’re either into fitness or they’re trying to drink the healthiest alternative and get lit. But come on, man, you need a little sugar in there. “Can I have a skinny Margarita?” So you want tequila and lime juice? Why do you do this to yourself?

T: Or I feel like it’s become a trend on the Daiquiri front.

J: Please, let me put a little bit of agave in it.

T: Yeah. Also, they’re drinking tequila because it’s healthier. It’s not.

J: Yeah. It’s not. That’s the craziest thing. When people do these things and they have a reason for it. Listen, if you’re going to drink, drink right. Drink what you want. And don’t worry about it. Just work out a little harder or something.

T: Yeah, if you’re drinking, I mean, the calories are the same. Calories are like ABV, right? I think that’s where the calories stack up. That’s what we’re talking about there. So I don’t know. But it is fascinating to see those myths proliferate. One of them that I encounter more and more these days is people saying that because of diabetes, tequila’s the only spirit that they can drink.

J: The things that people say.

T: And I have no idea where that myth is coming from.

J: I haven’t heard that one yet, but that’s good.

T: And sadly, we’re speaking about it here. We’re putting it out on the internet and spreading misinformation. It’s not true, people.

J: Guys, all spirits are gluten-free. Guys, all distilled spirits. I just have to put it out there one more time. Okay?

How to make Josue Gonzalez’s El Diablo

T: All right then. Let’s now talk through the preparation of this drink as if you were making it for us here today. And I’m talking about the classic version. If someone set you the task of, “Okay, I want your specs for this as you believe it to be kind of classically.” And can you give us those measurements as well as the preparation steps?

J: Of course. And I’ll even give you two little things you can do differently, because I’ve seen it and I think that there’s nothing wrong with that. So, for me, I want the cocktail, when I have it and I drink it, I want it to just taste the way it’s supposed to taste the whole time. And the reason I say this is because sometimes people will make the cocktail kind of like a Dark ‘n Stormy, where they’ll build the cocktail and then they’ll drizzle the crème de cassis on top to create the layering effect. And I’m like, “That’s great.” That’s pretty, but it’s not impressive to me, and it doesn’t wow me, and now I have to churn it with the straw to get the flavors to blend. Because like I said, the cassis is what makes this cocktail harmonious and it brings balance to all these things. So that’s cool if you want to do that.

T: It looks great in an Instagram photo.

J: Yeah. It looks great in an Instagram photo, but there’s other ways to do that. You can make the garnish nice. You can do a lime wheel with a candied ginger and then throw a Filthy Cherry through a pick and then have this beautiful garnish protruding out of the drink. But I would love to just give it a nice whip shake. It’s not about the carbonation of the ginger beer. So I actually kind of would like it on the crushed ice. I like a little bit of the extra dilution. So let’s take it from the top.

T: Yeah, let’s do it.

J: I like to build cocktails with the spirit last. So I go with the fresh juice first. I’m doing three-quarter ounce lime juice in a shaker tin. And then following that, I’m going to do half an ounce of crème de cassis. Now, that’s if I’m just making a classic one. I personally would switch out the crème de cassis for something like a strawberry syrup. I know Royale makes an amazing line of syrups, so you don’t even have to make it. I know that sometimes people are like, “Oh, I have to make that?” Man, you can buy most things now. And they’re pretty good because they’re being mass produced. Anyways. And then put in the tequila. Add two ice cubes. Give it a nice shake.

T: And how much tequila? You’re going 2 ounces?

J: Okay. This is actually the part that a lot of people might be like, “What? This guy’s crazy.” I will not go 2 ounces, and I’m not going to do an ounce, and I’m not going to do ounce and a half. I’m going to do an ounce and a quarter.

T: Okay.

J: I’m a big fan of the ounce and a quarter, because I feel like an ounce is not enough and an ounce and half is then that’s… Whatever. I like the ounce and a quarter, but I would use a tequila that has a little bit of a higher ABV too.

T: Not many of those out there.

J: There’s a few out there. Like Don Fulano makes a Fulano Fuerte. I’m not a hundred percent sure about El Tesoro. I know Arquitecto is like 42 percent. Tapatio has the Tapatio 110. So there’s a few out there.

T: There’s another one I’d like to give a shout-out to, it’s called Elvelo. Altamar Brands. They’re an importer and some of their team are former bartenders. So they kind of custom-designed this one. They went down, tasted whatever. And they work with a great producer down there. And I think it comes in… I might be wrong, but I think it comes in… I’m not even going to say what it is because I’m going to get it wrong, but it’s definitely higher than the standard that you see. And because these guys are former bartenders as well, they sell it in 1-liter packaging and it’s very, very reasonably priced. That would be a great one there. So just want to give those guys a shout-out because that’s one I’ve enjoyed.

J: Oh, nice.

T: But yeah. Sorry for hijacking that there.

J: Yeah. Yeah. One and a quarter. Give it a quick whip shake. Pour it into a highball. And then I’m going to add about 3 ounces of ginger beer. I would probably pick… It doesn’t really matter that much honestly. Most ginger beers are pretty close. I’m not going to name anybody. And then just regular ice. Just regular ice. And then I would garnish it definitely with a lime wheel, a candied ginger and a Filthy Cherry just through a skewer.

T: Amazing. That sounds absolutely delicious. So you’ve mentioned highball glass there and your garnish. So those are covered. Any final thoughts here on El Diablo?

J: Yeah. So this cocktail, actually, I was thinking about it, is the perfect beach cocktail. And I’m actually going to the beach on Sunday and I have this little growler that you can get on Amazon. It’s like GrowlerWerks. It’s a gallon. And essentially it was made for beer so people can have on-tap beer at their homes. But I use it a lot to just put cocktails in it and take it to places, or for an event I’ll have two or three of them set up with a cocktail and it’s just a cocktail on tap and it’s perfect. So I’m thinking, you could literally just make this cocktail in a growler and take it to the beach and that’s the perfect beach sipper.

T: ​​And so are you going to have all the ingredients in there already?

J: Oh yeah. I’m going to put everything in there.

T: Everything prepared.

J: Yeah.

T: Perfect. Keep that chilled.

J: Keep it chilled. It’s portable. It has a gauge. It’s everything you want for the beach.

Getting To Know Josue Gonzalez

T: It does sound like a great beach drink right there. Wonderful. Well, that’s El Diablo covered. How about we now move into the second part of the show where we get to know yourself more as a drinker and a bartender.

J: Oh, man.

T: Ready for it?

J: Sure. Let’s go.

T: Let’s do it. Question No. 1: What style or category of spirit typically enjoys the most real estate on your back bar?

J: Oh, well, like I said earlier, tequila is hot. I feel like tequila is behind a lot of back bars right now, especially some of mine, and it’s definitely one of my top three. But if we’re going to talk about my home bar and what I personally like to drink, I’ll definitely go with rum in this category. Yeah. I think I have more rum in my home bar than anything else.

T: And any specific style or you’re just going across the board?

J: That’s the thing I love about rum, that it has so many different styles. When you first start drinking rum, you start drinking the sweeter sipping rums, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re great. And then you start to discover agricole. And then you get into funky Jamaican rums. And then you go back to a sipping rum, and you’re like, “Oh man, I’m on the golf course. I’m not going to drink Appleton. I’m going to drink Bacardi 8 or Zacapa or something soft that I can just pound in the heat.” And then if I’m at home, I’m like, “Oh cool. I’m going to make a Caipirinha with a cachaça, which is essentially very agricole style.”

T: It’s funny, after Gui’s episode, I went through a little Caipirinha phase.

J: Oh, nice.

T: And I was making them at the office. I think people enjoyed them. And then I was just trying to adapt every cocktail to be a riff on a Caipirinha. It was wonderful. It’s a great drink.

J: I love it. I’m a little jealous. Caipirinha is one of my top cocktails, and he got that one and I was like, “Oh, this motherf*cker.”

T: At least he kept it in the family.

J: No, he did it well. He did a great job. I loved it.

T: Shout out to Gui Jaroschy there.

J: Shout to Gui. There’s this place in D.C. that I used to pound Caipirinhas a couple years ago. It’s a place called Astoria and they have Sichuan food and they have a really good ice program and they just make classics really well. And they have a few cool cocktails on the menu. But Sichuan food is spicy. And I’m a Cuban descent. I have a good spice tolerance, but still. And it’s one of my favorite cocktails to order at places that do them right. And for me, it’s all about the crushed ice and just a 16-ounce glass. And you put a fat Caipirinha, the 3-ounce ones that he was talking about, not the 2-ounce ones. And then you just pack it with crushed ice. Pack it, pack it, pack it, pack it, where it’s so tight. I would order two at a time because by the time they’re done making one, I’ve already finished the other one, I would drink seven Caipirinhas in one setting, which is an hour, and have some noodles and some dumplings and my mouth was on fire. It was amazing. I loved it.

T: Nice. Very nice there.

J: But yeah, rum.

T: All right now, moving on to question No. 2: Which ingredient or tool is the most undervalued in a bartender’s arsenal?

J: Oh man. Depends on the bartender, right?

T: Good one.

J: Okay. So this is actually very personal. For me, the flashlight is the tool that I think that people… I’m like, yo, I can… Sorry. Fun fact about me. I carry a flashlight with me everywhere.

T: Really?

J: People always are like, “Why do you have a flashlight on you, dude?” And I’m like, “Man, I don’t even want to get into it. You know how useful this thing is?” It’s not just a whatever flashlight, it’s a Streamlight ProTac 2. It’s 350 lumen. Listen, it’s a legit flashlight. But it’s so useful besides the bar. Listen, you can open beers with it. Somebody breaks glass on the floor in front of you or something like that? You immediately flash it. Everyone steps back, the bar steps back. You can signal security. When you’re not at the bar, sometimes you’re calling Ubers. The Uber’s looking for you, you flash them real quick, and they know that it’s you. They’re like, “Yeah, that’s my guy.” People have literally been like, “Why do you have a flashlight in your pocket? You’re so stupid,” whatever. And then 20 minutes later I’ll use it. And they’re like, “Damn. Where do I get one of those?”

T: This reminds me. We had Toby Cecchini talking about the oyster shucker. He chose that one. And I immediately went out after and bought one on Amazon. I’m not sure how useful it is. I’ve told him this. But I feel myself making a little visit to Amazon after this recording.

J: Streamlight, okay? You can even get one of the little ones. Mine’s a medium-sized one. It fits in my back pocket. I carry it everywhere. Not that I need a flashlight for self-defense, because this is technically a tactical flashlight. I’m a trained fighter so I’m not worried about that. But you blind somebody with this as soon as you put them in their eyes and then you can either run or hit them or whatever.

T: Oh my God.

J: It’s so many uses. I’m going to think of five more uses later and I’m going to email you, okay?

T: Okay. We’ll update them with that. That’s wonderful. All right then. First time for everything. Maybe the last time we hear flashlight there. We’ll see. Question No. 3: What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve received while working in this industry?

J: Okay. Ooh. Well, I don’t think there’s one, because everything is subjective. So I really think that the best advice is the one that you need at that precise moment. So I guess I’ll share a few words of random little things that I’ve heard that I really like.

T: Nice.

J: Yeah. So something, actually, I’m going to give another shout-out to my boy Gui. People like your drinks as much as they like you. So there’s a lot of people that worry so much about what the drink tastes like and all this and getting it right and this and that and whatever. And I’m like, “Yes. Okay, guys. We’re not heart surgeons. No one’s going to die. We’re making f*cking cocktails.” So be nice to the guests. Have fun. Interact. Don’t be weird. Because if people like you, then they’re going to like your drinks. Even sometimes when it’s not that great, I’m going to finish it. I’m not going to say anything. Because I like the person who made the drink. Unless it’s crazy. But yeah.

T: That’s a great piece of advice and that makes so much sense. Just hearing you talk that out, yeah, I’ve definitely had that experience before.

J: And it’s mind boggling when I tell people this during bar trainings. They’re like, “Oh yeah, yeah. Oh, okay. Hospitality. Yeah. That’s the stuff.” And then there’s just a few other little funny ones: You can’t make everybody happy, so don’t try to make everyone happy. Just be good at your job. Nothing is finite. And what I mean by that is that if you’re having a sh*tty day, just remember that it’s going to end. And also, if you’re having a good day or something good’s happening, then embrace it and be grateful for it because… Not trying to say, “Oh, bad days are coming,” but also learn to enjoy that moment that is good. And then I have one that John Lermayer told us one time at Sweet Liberty: Expectation is the grandfather of disappointment. And that seems a little grim, but really, I like to spin things in a positive way, bring out the light. And I’m a very structural, OCD kind of person. A move-really-fast kind of guy. So to me, you don’t expect everything to always be perfect. There’s going to be issues. Just work through them. And don’t always think everything’s going to be great. Just be ready for whatever’s coming. Don’t build those expectations. Be open.

T: Yeah. Nice. That’s great advice. Well, a lot of great advice in there.

J: Well, I think that… I have one more. And that wasn’t necessarily one that was told to me. It was one that I heard once and it’s actually a Hemingway quote, and that there’s nothing noble in being better than your fellow man, and true nobility is being better than your former self. So the greatest advice that I think I’ve ever heard is, hey man, don’t try to be better than everybody. Just be better than you were today tomorrow. And baby steps.

T: Amazing. Things we can apply to our work, to working in bars, and also to our personal life. Great range across the board there. Moving on here. Penultimate question: If you could only visit one last bar in your life, what would it be?

J: Oof. Well, what are the parameters with this question? Am I going to die? Is the world going to end? What’s…

T: Set your own parameters. This can be a real bar, past or present, imaginary. You might be like, “Okay, as soon as I step in here, I’m not allowed to go anywhere else.” Create the parameters, but just give us the bar and create the parameters because of that.

J: Okay. Well, I’m going to make the parameters easy because I feel like our likes and dislikes change over time. We go through phases in our lives where we’re like, “Oh man, I really like this. And I really want to go there because of this.” Sometimes we go to bars because we like the drinks. Sometimes we go to bars because we want to meet people. Sometimes we go to bars because we want to dance. And then there are very few bars where you can have all three of those things, but you’re not always necessarily looking for all those things. So I think that, today, right now, I would go to my favorite bar in Washington, D.C. Partly because I was just there recently for a wedding and it reminded me of living there and how much I love that city. And this is a bar that doesn’t, I don’t think, get a lot of recognition outside of D city, but it’s probably one of the best bars in the world. And it’s called Residents. Residents Cafe & Bar. It’s just the energy when you’re there. All the staff are happy. They all know each other and they all hang out. It’s a family. They all say hi to every single person. They create an experience for you from when you walk in, to remembering what you had last time, to just being really warm and genuine, which is really cool. They make amazing cocktails. And I don’t really necessarily go out and drink menu cocktails most of the time, but there I’m like, “Oh yeah, let me try that. And let me try that.” They change the menu often. The hospitality component is really what I love about it. The food is amazing too. The ambiance. These guys go in every season, they change the decor and the way the place looks. It has indoor, it has outdoor. You can stand by the bar. You can sit down. Recently, you can stand by the bar, which I got to experience that recently. Because they did open right before Covid, so they were technically like a bar-restaurant, because that’s what everyone was.

T: That’s amazing. Yeah.

J: It’s just a really good time. The owners are really nice guys and I love going there.

T: D.C. Real great drinking city. Real underrated drinking city. Lot of good spots out there.

J: Real underrated drinking. Yeah.

T: Fantastic. All right then, final question: If you knew that the next cocktail you drank was going to be your last, what would you order or make?

J: What’s up with all these last questions? Am I going to die? What’s going on? You know something I don’t? Man, you’re asking a guy who drinks a lot which cocktail he has to pick. All right. It would probably be a Kingston Negroni. But it wouldn’t be one, it would be two. And it would be in a 16-ounce pint glass with a lot of crushed ice.

T: I mean, you’re allowed it.

J: Right? Why not? If it’s my last drink, why not make it a double and drink it how I want to drink it?

T: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s a wonderful drink, that one. Wonderful little riff there. And I think, yeah, just go for the pint.

J: Yeah, go for the pint. I mean, listen. I was going to go with a Gibson, because I love me a Gibson. Like a nice Gibson with a bianco vermouth and a lemon twist discarded and then just extra onions. But I was like, “You know what? Who am I trying to kid?” This is not the cocktail for the last drink you’re going to have.

T: The last one.

J: Not the last one. That’s the first one.

T: Amazing. Wonderful. Bueno. ¿Sabés qué?

J: No hablamos en Español. Ibamos a hablar en Español y no decimos nada en Español.

T: ¿Sabés qué, Josue? We could do this all day. Sorry. That’s a little cheesy one in there for you, but-

J: You ain’t lying.

T: But I know you’re a busy man. I know you got places to be. And I got to go buy myself a Streamlight, so we’re going to call it a day there, but I want to say un gustazo. Thank you very much.

J: ¡Igualmente papi!

T: ¡Hasta la próxima!

J: Hasta la próxima, thank you so much for everything.

T: Thanks, man.

J: Have a good one.

T: Cheers.

J: Cheers.

Okay, that was a lot of info, but here’s the good news. Every single episode of VinePair’s “Cocktail College” is also published on VinePair.com as a transcript. So you can check it out there all over again.

If you enjoy listening to the show anywhere near as much as we enjoy making it, go ahead and hit subscribe, and please leave a rating or review wherever you get your podcasts — whether that’s Apple, Spotify, or Stitcher. And please tell your friends.

Now, for the credits. “Cocktail College” is recorded and produced in New York City by myself and Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director and all-around podcast guru. Of course, I want to give a huge shout-out to everyone on the VinePair team. Too many awesome people to mention. They know who they are. I want to give some credit here to Danielle Grinberg, art director at VinePair, for designing the awesome show logo. And listen to that music. That’s a Darbi Cicci original. Finally, thank you, listener, for making it this far and for giving this whole thing a purpose. Until next time.