Tequila and Coke, pretty simple right? Would you even call it a cocktail? While it is pretty basic, there are a couple of touches to making your tequila Coke extra special. Properly known as a Batanga and also a Charro Negro, find out what you need to know about this simple cocktail.
Table of Contents
The Core Ingredients
Tequila and Coke is most commonly made with blanco tequila or reposado. Higher quality tequila is better up to a point but there’s no shame in using cheaper mixto tequilas either. The “original” tequila and Coke is made with a mixto. In fact a tequila Coke is a great use for bad tasting tequila, particularly if you add the extras I’ll cover below.
Traditional coca-cola is my preferred mix for a tequila Coke but you can try other cola options like Pepsi or homebrands if you really want. If you don’t mind diet Coke or Coke zero feel free to use those options.
The Perfect Tequila and Coke Recipe
Here’s my favorite version of tequila and Coke. I don’t get too carried away with precise measures as it’s pretty forgiving. However, it is better to add too little salt at first, and see how it tastes, rather than going overboard.
- 2 ounces of tequila (blanco)
- 4 ounces of Coke
- Juice of half a lime
- Flaked or coarse salt for rimming glass, pinch for adding to drink
- Cut wedge of lime and circle rim of tall glass with the flesh
- Roll outside edge of glass in salt so that it sticks
- Add pinch of salt and lime juice to glass, stir
- Fill glass with ice cubes then add tequila and Coke, stir
- Lime wedge garnish optional
A tequila and Coke, or Batanga, has 122 calories.
Tequila and Coke Ratio
The traditional ratio of tequila to Coke for a Batanga is about 1:2 which is what I prefer. So that’s two ounces of tequila to four ounces of Coke. In reality it will depend on the size of your glass and how much ice you have – you don’t want to end up with a glass that’s too empty.
Be sure to experiment and also remember the impact that ice will have on the drink. What may taste strong at first will mellow out as the ice melts (both in alcoholic strength and sweetness). Crushed ice will melt quicker than cubed ice for example.
Also think about how long you will take to drink your glass and how hot the environment is. If you are slowly drinking in a hot room you will probably want bigger ice cubes and maybe a stronger mix of tequila vs Coke.
Variations on the Classic Tequila and Coke
The easiest things to play with is lime juice and salt. You can choose to leave these out of your tequila and Coke and it’s still good tasting, just a little lack-luster.
The other key variation is to use flavored Cokes.
- Tequila and Vanilla Coke – I find vanilla Coke works well, especially with a blanco tequila.
- Lime Coke and tequila is also pretty good. You may want to adjust the amount of extra lime juice or leave it out altogether.
- Tequila and Coke with Coffee. This may be a bit divisive, if you don’t like Coke with Coffee you probably won’t like this. Personally I don’t mind it. While this version was discontinued in the US at the end of 2022 you may still be able to find it. It is still available in other countries.
- Tequila and Cherry Coke – this is one to avoid in my opinion. I personally don’t think the flavors work that well together.
The History of Tequila and Coke, the Batanga
The most repeated story about the invention of the tequila Coke is that it was invented by Don Javier Delgado around 1965, owner of the cantina La Capilla (“The Chapel”) in the town of Tequila, Mexico. He called the drink “Batanga”.
Batanga refers to an outrigger canoe from the Philippines, used to cross water. Mexicans love wordplay. As a joke, you might say someone is “on the waters”, meaning drinking. Don Javier tells the story that Batanga became a nickname for a regular customer who, like the Batanga canoe, was often “on the waters”. The drink was named in his honor.
According to the house recipe a Batanga is the juice of one lime into a tall, salt-rimmed glass filled with ice. Then add about one double shot of blanco tequila and top with Coke. Stir the glass with the same knife used to cut the limes. These days they highlight that it is made from Mexican Coke (made from cane sugar) not Coke from the US (made with high fructose corn syrup).
To add an authentic touch, the drink is stirred with a knife that has been used to cut lime, avocado, coriander and chile. This supposedly imparts extra flavors but after the first stir I’d question that.
At La Capilla they use El Tequileño Blanco tequila. El Tequilenõ Blanco is a mixto, meaning it is distilled from a blend of agave and other sugars. El Tequileño Blanco is made from 70% agave and 30% sugar from sugar cane and is aged 14 days in oak. A bottle of El Tequilenõ Blanco costs around $25 in the US. The Mexican version is bottled at 38% ABV while the US version is 40%.
I hesitate to give credit to Don Javier, given the simplicity of this drink and its similarity to other drinks like the Cuba Libre. The Cuba Libre is from the early 1900s. Coke was available in Mexico from 1921. So it doesn’t take too much imagination to put tequila and Coke together. However history is written by the victors, and it seems like La Capilla and El Tequileño have won this battle.
Batanga vs Charro Negro
A tequila and Coke is also called a Charro Negro. Batanga and Charro Negro both refer to the same thing. Charro Negro means “black cowboy” or “black horseman” and it referrs to a popular Mexican myth.
The Charro Negro is a mythical figure in Mexican folklore, often described as a tall, dark-skinned man with fiery red or glowing eyes. He is dressed in traditional charro attire which consists of an embellished suit, a wide-brimmed sombrero, and boots.
He is known for striking deals with unsuspecting individuals, leading to their downfall. The Charro Negro is particularly associated with the Mexican holiday The Day of the Dead. It is common to drink tequila and Cokes at this time.
The Charro Negro has been featured in Mexican literature, cinema, animation, music, and television, with notable examples such as the poem by Salvador Novo, the 1940 film starring Pedro Infante, the 2018 animated film “La Leyenda del Charro Negro,” and the song by the band “El Tri.”
Do you need Mexican Coke?
If you want to follow the official Batanga recipe you need to use Mexican Coke.
According to popular society, there’s no substitute for Mexican Coke – it tastes better, its less processed than Coke from the US and it’s better for you. Many say that a Batanga should always be made with Mexican Coke too to be authentic.
Mexican Coke is apparently superior because it is made from cane sugar instead of using high fructose corn syrup like Coke from the US or Canada. Outside Mexico, Mexican Coke is almost always in glass bottles, rather than plastic. This definitely helps with shelf life.
In blind taste tests conducted in the US, most drinkers actually preferred American Coke to Mexican. But when people know what they are drinking, they prefer Mexican Coke. So it seems more psychological than a real taste preference, but there’s no denying the importance of psychology!
My recommendation, firstly, try and avoid Coke from plastic bottles as these lose fiz quicker – instead use newly opened cans or glass bottles. Secondly, if you already think Mexican Coke is better – go for that. If you’re not sure or have no preference, use the Coke you can get your hands on.
Tequila and Coke is a Highball
A highball is a type of cocktail that typically consists of a base spirit mixed with a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer, served in a tall glass with ice. The term “highball” refers both to the type of drink and the glass it’s served in.
There are several common highball examples that have become classic cocktails around the world. Some of these include:
- Whiskey and Ginger Ale: Also known as a “Whiskey Highball” or “Ginger Highball,” this drink combines whiskey (usually bourbon or rye) with ginger ale and is served over ice in a highball glass.
- Whisky and soda: Commonly drunk in Japan where it is known simply as “highball”, this drink has taken on icon status. It is a staple from basic bars and restaurants to high class cocktail bars and even vending machines.
- Gin and Tonic: A classic and popular highball, the Gin and Tonic is a simple combination of gin and tonic water, often garnished with a lime wedge.
- Vodka and Soda: A simple and light highball, this drink combines vodka with club soda and is typically garnished with a lemon or lime wedge.
- Rum and Coke: Also known as a “Cuba Libre” when garnished with a lime wedge, this highball consists of rum (usually a light rum) mixed with cola.
Other popular tequila highballs
- Tequila and soda: both ingredients served over ice with a lime wedge.
- Paloma: tequila and grapefruit soda, served over ice. Also hugely popular in Mexico. An “official” tequila cocktail.
- Tequila sunrise: tequila with orange juice and grenadine. Another “official” tequila cocktail.
- Mexican Mule: a Moscow Mule but with tequila instead of vodka. Made with tequila, ginger beer and lime juice over ice.
- Ranch Water: A drink that has generated a bit of a craze – add tequila and lime juice to a chilled bottle of Topo Chico mineral water.
Have fun experimenting with this classic mix. In a world of advanced mixology and hundred dollar tequilas, it’s nice to have something simple, cheap and tasty to enjoy like a tequila Coke.
What is a tequila and Coke called?
A tequila and Coke is known as a Batanga or a Charro Negro.
What tequila is best for a tequila Coke?
Blancos and reposados are generally best. Mixtos (generally cheaper tequilas with less than 100% agave) also work very well.
Is a Batanga just a Cuba Libre with tequila instead of rum?
Pretty much but not quite. Batangas are generally served with a salt rim, but Cuba Libres are not.