Play with fire…
1) Spike your ice: Cut a couple of jalapeños or cayenne peppers into thin slices and let them sit in one or two cups of water for about half an hour, then use that water to fill an ice cube tray—one that makes large, cocktail-size cubes is ideal. Toss one or two cubes in a rocks glass and serve with your favorite whiskey, tequila, or vodka. As the cubes melt, they’ll add spice to your drink—while also keeping it cool.
2) Chuck in some fire: Add a pinch of ground cayenne pepper, black pepper, or a dash of sriracha to your cocktail before shaking.
3) Ignite your rim: If you’re making a drink with a salted rim, try adding some dried and ground chipotle or pepper-infused salt as well.
4) Light up the surface: Before serving your drink, add a dash of habañero bitters to the top. Or shake on some hot sauce. (It’s great on shots as well.)
…But don’t get burned
Jesse Card, master mixologist for Cruzan Rum, offers three tips for making spicy drinks—without getting burned.
Wear gloves! “I cannot stress enough the need to wear gloves when you cut a spicy pepper,” Card says. “If not, the oils can linger on your hands for hours.” Forget? Wash your hands completely and don’t touch your face or eyes (and be careful in the bathroom!) until you know all the fiery pepper oil is gone. Washing your hands repeatedly with olive oil may also help.
Start out small. “I use no more than a third of a pepper per drink,” Card says. For more heat, leave the seeds in the pepper; for less, take them out.
Adjust the heat. Alcohol intensifies the flavor of spices, so go easy. If you overdo it, double the recipe to dilute the taste, or add some agave syrup (sweetness fights fire).