Everything To Know About The Batanga, The Next Hot Summer Cocktail

From the Hugo spritz to the espresso martini, many cocktails have vied for the title of drink of the summer over the years. As we approach the official start of the season, another beverage has emerged to compete for the title.

A fairly simple but perfectly balanced cocktail called the batanga might be the next hot summer cocktail, with fans ranging from TikTok-famous bartenders to the team at Martha Stewart.

So what exactly is a batanga, and what makes it worthy of being the drink of the summer? We asked some cocktail experts to break it down.

What is a batanga?

“The batanga is a simple yet refreshing cocktail made with tequila, fresh lime juice and cola, served in a glass with a salted rim,” said bartender Lynnette Marrero, who is a partner and chief mixologist at Delola and co-founder of the speed bartending competition Speed Rack.

To make a batanga, you must first cut a lime and use a wedge to coat the rim of a highball glass before dipping it in salt (some versions call for an added pinch of salt directly in the glass). Next, squeeze fresh lime juice into the glass and add ice and tequila blanco. Top it off with cola and stir to combine.

While the recommended ingredient portions vary depending on who you ask, we found many bartenders go with half an ounce of lime juice, or the juice of half a lime, and about 2 ounces of tequila blanco. One of the benefits of this drink is that you can tweak the ratio to your personal taste without compromising its overall identity.

Many describe the batanga as a take on a cuba libre with tequila instead of rum or a paloma with cola instead of grapefruit. The concoction is also sometimes called a charro negro, though the batanga differs in its specific inclusion of salt.

Aficionados also recommend using Mexican Coke in keeping with the cocktail’s origins in the Jalisco region of Mexico.

“The batanga is a very famous cocktail in the town of Tequila, and it was created by Don Javier Delgado Corona, who was the founder of La Capilla,” said Steffin Oghene, the vice president of international sales at El Tequileño.

Frequently named one of the world’s best bars, La Capilla is the oldest cantina in Tequila, and it was there in 1961 that Corona served his first batanga ― made with tequila blanco from the nearby distillery El Tequileño.

Another important feature of the batanga is the way it’s mixed. Corona famously stirred the ingredients with the same bar knife he used to cut the limes, infusing extra flavor into the cocktail. According to some accounts, that same knife was also used to cut tomatoes, onions, peppers and avocados for salsa and guacamole.

The batanga is in the “changuirongo” category of cocktails, a Mexican term referring to tequila mixed with any type of soda and sometimes citrus.

As for the name, batanga was slang for “stocky” or “thick in the middle,” and the cocktail’s inventor reportedly drew inspiration from an inside joke involving a certain rotund friend, the glass used to serve the drink and/or a type of canoe.

Although he passed away in 2020 at the age of 96, Corona’s family has continued the tradition of the batanga.

“For all the global bartenders, tequila lovers and tourists who go to the town of Tequila, it’s a right of passage to have a batanga,” Oghene said.

Batanga inventor Don Javier Delgado Corona used tequila blanco from the local distillery, El Tequileño, for his drink. Its reach beyond Mexico has been rapidly expanding in recent years.
Batanga inventor Don Javier Delgado Corona used tequila blanco from the local distillery, El Tequileño, for his drink. Its reach beyond Mexico has been rapidly expanding in recent years. Courtesy of El Tequileño

Why is it having a moment?

“Much like the paloma variation of tequila, citrus and sweet soda, the ‘changuirongo’ style cocktails reached peak popularity in the 1940s and throughout the midcentury,” said Bradley Thomas Stephens, vice president and education chair of the United States Bartenders’ Guild board of directors.

More than six decades after its invention, the batanga remains a changuirongo staple for many.

“It’s such an iconic cocktail within the town of Tequila,” Oghene said. “It tastes really great, and on very hot days, it’s very refreshing and delicious.”

Although the batanga has long been famous with Tequila locals, the cocktail’s reach beyond Mexico has been rapidly expanding in recent years.

“The drink has been popular in Europe and other regions around the globe since the ’90s, but has never fully reached the American fame it deserves,” Stephens said. “Recently, there has been a spike in American bartenders discovering the drink, and even a tequila brand named Batanga on shelves in many states in recent years. There is a strong chance many of us will start seeing variations on menus soon.”

There are many potential reasons for this spread of batanga awareness. Perhaps the Coca-Cola and tequila lobbies are cornering the TikTok market, or maybe we’re just seeking an uncomplicated alternative to all the expensive, elaborate cocktails out there.

“Tequila is having a major moment, and its growth and popularity have continued to soar,” Marrero said. “Naturally, more and more consumers will turn to classic cocktails featuring the spirit.”

For novice mixologists dabbling in at-home cocktails, perfecting tequila-based drinks like margaritas might require a bit more work. But Marrero believes the batanga offers an easier alternative.

“The batanga is simple, requires only a few basic ingredients and it’s incredibly simple to make,” she said. “The rise of better-for-you colas and craft ‘soda’ can also contribute to this growth.”

Marrero pointed to an increase in tequila lovers traveling to Jalisco as well.

“These trips often include visiting La Capilla, the bar where the batanga was created, resulting in the passing on of the cocktail to a wider audience,” she said.

The travel aspect speaks to a larger interest in food and beverage traditions from other cultures.

“People like stories ― they like history, they like heritage, and this drink has a lot of history and heritage,” Oghene said. “And it’s a favorite amongst locals, so people want to be involved in that experience.”