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The Heat Is On

Go spicy this summer with cocktails that embrace the heat.

Summer is the season of spice, and there’s no shortage of ways to turn up the heat behind the bar: infused spirits, spicy liqueurs, a peppered rim, or a variety of fresh chiles. But the real secret to a successful spicy cocktail is balance. So how do you make a deliciously heat-packed beverage without scorching the taste buds? Here’s how some of the best in the biz do it.

Bright orange ocktails in glasses rimmed with chile powder and garnished by lime and orange slices.
Pretend it’s orange juice: part of a nutritious breakfast. / Tamayo by Richard Sandoval

“Always taste the pepper you are using first to gauge the spice level, as some peppers vary in spice level throughout the year due to climate, soil conditions, and age of the pepper. Using a chile liqueur will help guarantee consistency in taste and spice level.” —Miranda Garcia, general manager, Tamayo

Tamayo’s Ancho Chile Margarita 

  • 1 ½ ounces Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
  • ¾ ounce Patron Citronge
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¾ ounce agave nectar

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and serve in a glass with a Tajín rim. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Cocktail in a martini dress garnished with a cucumber slice.
This mamba has a bite. / Kevin Galaba

“Balance is key. In our Golden Mamba cocktail, we use cucumber to cool down the heat and lime juice to set off the sweetness from the dry curaçao, making a cohesive drink that is the refreshing patio sipper we intended it to be.” —Kayla Veatch, manager, Golden Moon Speakeasy

Golden Moon’s Golden Mamba 

  • 1 ounce spicy whiskey
  • 1 ounce Golden Moon Dry Curaçao
  • ¾ ounce cucumber syrup
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice

Combine ingredients into a shaker tin and shake for 20 seconds. Double strain into your favorite coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a cucumber or jalapeño slice for extra spice.

There are no ghost peppers in Ghost Donkey’s cocktails. / Ghost Donkey

“Use the right pepper! For a green, vegetal spice, reach for a fresh jalapeño. For something smoky, rich, and deep, try a dried chile like guajillo. We love the subtle smokiness of the poblano and the slow burn of the Ancho Reyes.” —Dustin Fox, Ghost Donkey

Ghost Donkey’s Pistolero

  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • ¼ ounce Ancho Reyes Verde Liqueur
  • ¾ ounce poblano sherbet
  • ¾ ounce lime juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and shake until the cocktail is well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass prepared with a citrus salt rim and ice. Garnish with a poblano slice.

Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com


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