Master Fiery Flavours and Craft Sensational Spicy Cocktails
In the world of mixology, trends come and go, but one flavour that’s been igniting taste buds and gaining popularity in recent years is spice – and what’s more – it’s showing no sign of slowing down.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.
As bar owner and manager of several renowned bars in Mexico, I see a regular stream of requests come through for spicy cocktails. These requests don’t come without their challenges; you have to be very careful with how and when to use spice. However, when you get the balance right, the result is magnificent.
From key benefits to basic dos and don’ts, learn how to create sensational spicy cocktails, with exciting recipes to try making in your own venue!
Five Reasons for Using Spice in Cocktails
- Spicy drinks are on trend right now and could help differentiate your cocktail menu from competitors’.
- Spicy drinks can add a dynamic element to cocktails, evoking a sense of adventure, attracting customers who are seeking new and exciting flavour experiences.
- Spice stimulates the senses, providing a unique and memorable experience for your customers.
- The inclusion of spice can enhance the overall flavour profile of a cocktail, adding complexity and depth.
- Adding a bit of chilli to your serve can help counteract sweetness or tartness in a cocktail, creating a beautifully balanced drink.
How to make a cocktail spicy?
- Use spice-infused syrups: Creating spice-infused syrups is a fantastic way to incorporate heat into your cocktails. You can do this by simmering spices in a simple syrup to extract their flavours, straining out the solids, and using the resulting syrup.
- Try muddling spices: Muddling spices directly in a mixing glass or shaker can release their essential oils and flavours. This technique works well for ingredients like jalapeños, which lend their distinct heat and aroma to the drink.
- Rim your glasses with spice: Up your presentation game by rimming glasses with spices such as chipotle salt. Not only does this add an extra kick, but it enhances the visual appeal of the cocktail.
- Try using a rotovap: A rotovap (rotary evaporator) is a device that can be used to filter out strong or unwanted flavours from fruits or vegetables. If you’re lucky enough to have one, you can extract amazing floral notes that are sometimes hidden in chillies because their heat usually overpowers them.
Ready to start experimenting?
The beauty of spice is that it’s vast and diverse, offering endless opportunities to create exciting and original drinks.
Here are a few classic cocktails with a spicy twist to get you started:
MARGARITA AL PASTOR
Salty, tangy and subtly spicy, this serve offers guests a unique twist on the original Margarita. The serrano pepper adds a fun and noticeable layer of flavour in the aftertaste.
BIANCA LIMA’S CLASSIC COCKTAILS WITH A SPICY TWIST
Spicy Cocktail Do's
- Experiment with different spice levels: Start by infusing a small amount of spice into your cocktail and gradually increase the quantity. It can take a while to get the level of spice right! For example, for the Margarita al Pastor, we originally used crushed serrano chili, but it was just a little too much.
- Consider customer preferences: Always ask for the customer’s spice preference and customize the level of heat. While some guests may enjoy a fiery cocktail, others may prefer it mild. We learnt this the hard way!
- Combine flavours thoughtfully: Experiment with complementary ingredients that can accentuate the spice. Citrus fruits, flowers and herbs like cilantro or mint, and sweet elements like honey or agave nectar can help balance and enhance the spice experience. Food pairing inspiration can be really helpful for helping you identify great combinations.
- Standardise your cocktails: Once you get the right flavour, make a note of the steps you took to achieve it so that you can aim to reach the same outcome every time for this particular type of cocktail. This is key because even with a recipe, the level of spice in the same variety can change from one chili to the next.
Spicy Cocktail Don'ts
- Avoid overpowering the drink: While spice can add excitement, be cautious not to overpower the other flavours in the cocktail. Achieving balance in a cocktail is key. You want to create a harmonious blend of flavours.
- Don't limit yourself: Explore lesser-known spices and experiment with unconventional combinations to create unique and memorable drinks. Be innovative and push the boundaries of what's expected.
5 Key Takeaways
- The popularity of spicy cocktails is showing no sign of slowing down so now’s a great time to add a bit of heat to your menu.
- Experiment with complementary ingredients that can accentuate the spice. Citrus fruits, flowers and herbs like cilantro or mint, and sweet elements like honey or agave nectar can help balance and enhance the spice experience.
- Standardise your cocktails. Once you get the right flavour, make a note of this and aim to achieve the same outcome every time for this particular type of cocktail.
- Avoid overpowering the drink. While spice can add excitement, be cautious not to overpower the other flavours in the cocktail. Achieving balance in a cocktail is key.
- Don't limit yourself. Experiment with unconventional combinations to create unique and memorable drinks. Be innovative and push the boundaries of what's expected.