A few weeks back, we ran a feature highlighting some high-octane hot sauces to up your barbecue game. Among them was Big Daddy's pretty-much perfect Amplified Heat blend, boasting smoked jalapenos amid ingredients like German-style ale for an adaptable, unimpeachable flavor. And that got us thinking about two things: What are some other smoky hot sauces we know and love? And how many synonyms for smoked or smoky can we use when discussing the characteristics of these choice selections? But hey, that's like wondering whether unwieldy alliteration would worry us.
So without overcooking this line of thought, the following are a handful of the finest hot sauces we've come across whose secret weapons are smoked peppers, spices, and even fruit (!) that evoke aromas ranging from Mexican corn to sweet-ass sausage. And, moreover, can enhance and embolden any meal from sunrise to dusk.
Lucky Dog Dia Del Perro
Key Attributes: Of all the things Californians stereotypically take to, dogs (cats are more for winter climates, people) and Mexican food would rank fairly close to celebrity spotting and convertibles. No surprise, then, that Scott Zalkind's operation hails from the Golden State's Bay Area boomtown Hayward, and that its choicest smoked sauce might be Dia Del Perro (shout out to artist Robin Case, who designed the aptly dia de los muertos-inspired bottle). The unusual recipe calls for everything from applesauce to toasted onions. Yet to the common nose, you'd swear you got a whiff of sweet Mexican corn from a local boardwalk carnival. Some Serrano peppers make sure there's a bit of life once it hits your mouth, but the overall sensation is distinctly summery, and it's got a unique viscosity that makes for composed pouring even after a few Dos Equis.
Most Appropriate Usage: Mexican fare with fresh ingredients (including, if you're bold, a touch mixed around in your guac), but also fish on the grill or just with some chips and chili during the game (you know, the game).
Where You Can Buy It: Direct, at select Bay Area farmers markets, Whole Foods, spice shops, and even bagel stores, and reputed retailers elsewhere like Houston's iBurn and Long Island's Greenport Fire.