You don’t need to set a cocktail on fire to add some heat. Bartenders are using spicy spirits, pepper-powered ice, and fresh chilies to crank up the capsaicin. Here are 11 spicy cocktails that burn so good.
Teporocho at Cantina Rooftop, New York, New York
Muy caliente! Spicy agave nectar and a shake of pepper flakes give this cocktail a kick. Fortified by Illegal Mezcal Joven, it’s filled out with pineapple juice and lime juice. Make a reservation at Cantina Rooftop.
Roast Pepper Margarita at Puesto, San Diego, California
Sip a panoply of peppers. This cocktail features hot habaneros with fruity tones, sweet roasted bell peppers, and punchy jalapeños. Casa Noble Crystal Tequila powers this peppy potable. Make a reservation at Puesto.
Bell Bottom Blues at The VNYL, New York, New York
Jalapeño-infused Cointreau adds blaze to this bell pepper. The peppery potable is filled out with Avíon Reposado, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and Combier’s Crème de Pamplemousse Rose. Bonus: you get a serving of vegetables, so you can convince yourself that you’re being healthy. Make a reservation at The VNYL.
El Chignon at Tanta, Chicago, Illinois
Jalapeño Tanteo tequila lights up this Peruvian potable. The rocoto pepper ice sphere intensifies the fiery flavor as it melts. The slower you drink, the longer the burn. Make a reservation at Tanta.
Chavela Michelada at Lolo’s Surf Cantina, Miami Beach, Florida
Meet Latin America’s favorite hangover cure. Tomato sauce, lime juice, and Pacifico beer join forces to dispel your pounding headache. Drink two if it was an especially epic evening. Make a reservation at Lolo’s Surf Cantina.
Spicy Blood Orange Margarita at Blind Burro, San Diego, California
Warning: not for the faint of heart. Muddled jalapeños add some serious spice to this snappy concoction. Rounding it out, Hornitos silver tequila and triple sec bring the booze to the party. Make a reservation at the Blind Burro.
Chili Passion Martini at Zuma, Las Vegas, Nevada
James Bond never ordered his martinis like this, but he should have. Red Fresno chili syrup adds zip, zap, and pizazz, while vanilla vodka powers the suave sipper. After a couple of these, you’ll feel ready to take down a super villain. Make a reservation at Zuma.
Jalapeño Avocado Margarita at Oceanside, Amelia Island, Florida
Say hello to guacamole in a glass. Hand muddled avocado is mixed with jalapeño-infused tequila, and lemon and lime juices. All that’s missing are the tortilla chips. Make a reservation at Oceanside.
La Fresca at China Poblano, Las Vegas, Nevada
Serrano-infused simple syrup adds a kick to this pineapple and mezcal combo. The results are soothing, yet spicy. Perfect for mellowing out after a long day, while building buzz for the night to come. Make a reservation at China Poblano.
Chili Passion Martini at Jaya at the Setai, Miami Beach, Florida
Spicy sweet is the combo you can’t beat. Chili-infused vodka and chili flake bring the heat. Meanwhile, passion fruit rum and passion fruit puree give it a tropical sensibility. Make a reservation at Jaya at the Setai.
Spicy Pacific at Pacific Catch–Sunset District, San Francisco, California
This cocktail includes sugar and spice and everything nice. The fire comes courtesy of muddled serrano chilies, while passion fruit puree adds sweetly tart tropical tones. If you want another hit of heat, a fresh serrano garnishes the glass. Make a reservation at Pacific Catch.
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Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Kaarsten Harris (Cantina Rooftop); Galdones Photography (Tanta); Puesto (Sam Wells).