The Charro Negro is a drink associated with Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. This drink combines blanco tequila, cola, lemon, and salt, and it is as dark as the mythos that inspired it. The crisp and distinct flavors each shine individually in this simple, but effective cocktail. After the recipe, we’ll explore the legend of the Charro Negro, both in historical culture and popular culture.
- 1–2 oz blanco or silver tequila
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 6–8 oz cola
- Margarita salt
- Lemon wedge
Rub the rim of the glass with lemon wedge, and dip glass in salt. Squeeze juice from half a lemon into glass. Add tequila and ice. Top with cola and stir. Add lemon wedge, serve and enjoy.
The Charro Negro is not only named after the Mexican legend of ghostly cowboy dressed in black, but it is also a perfect combination of flavors: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter are all represented. The Charro Negro is similar to a Cube Libre, just substitute tequila for rum, add the salt, and substitute lemon for lime.
The Legend of the Charro Negro in Hispanic Culture
In Mexico, there is a legend of a cowboy, dressed head to toe in black who rides a black horse, who offers bags of money to unsuspecting strangers. Those who accept the gifts of this mysterious figure end up dead a few days later. It is said that this gaucho is an apparition who seeks revenge against those who wronged him. This mythic figure is the Black Charro, aka the Charro Negro.
Another version of this legend says that the Charro Negro is the ghost of an old ranch hand who is mourning the death of a loved one.
Here’s a version of the story that I really like: Many years ago, when gold mining was still prevalent in Hildago, the mining companies used families as little more than slave labor. One evening, a man named John was at the bar with his fellow workers, lamenting that he would do anything to become rich. A mysterious dressed all in black seated at the bar told him to go to an abandoned mine, the Cave Coyote. Already drunk, John went to the cave, but saw no one. He was about to leave, when he saw a snake of enormous size watching him intently from a hole in the cove. John decided to take the snake home and sell it, as this snake was unusually large. John placed the snake in a dried well covered with boards.
That night, John dreamed that the snake was speaking to him. The snake told him, Thanks you for inviting me into your home. I will give you gold, in exchange for one of your children, and your soul. You will find payment for your soul in the barn. John awoke that morning, and going to the barn he found two bags of gold. His wife came to him, distressed, as their son had disappeared. Their daughter checked the well, and the snake had also disappeared.
With the money, John and his family bought a farm of their own. Every year, he would dream of the snake again. I will give you more gold for more children…the snake would whisper in his dream. John sought lovers in far-flung villages, to continue to bear children as payment for prosperity, sacrificed to the unearthly snake.
In Popular Culture
From the late 1930s to the early 1950s, there were a series of movies that featured the heroic character El Charro Negro, a mysterious cowboy dressed in black with a black cowboy hat.
The mariachi singer Timoteo is also known as “El Charro Negro”. Timoteo is also the first African-American mariachi singer, and a bit of a big star.