5 Spicy Cocktail Recipes to Bring the Heat


From spicy salsas and moles in Mexico to jerk chicken in the Caribbean to curries in India, there’s a reason people in the hottest climates are also drawn to fiery foods: When that heat crosses your lips, it raises your body temperature and makes you sweat, improving circulation and helping you cope better with the weather around you. The same is true with cocktails. A spicy drink is actually more refreshing when sipped slowly on a hot afternoon. Plus, by swapping in low-calorie peppers to replace fruit or mixers, you also cut the calories in your drink significantly. All that, and they taste great with every type of liquor—it’s definitely time to get lit!

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Jalapeño Basil Gin and Tonic

1 jalapeño, sliced
2 sprigs fresh basil
1/2 small cucumber, sliced
2 oz gin 

To make: Muddle jalapeño, basil, and cucumber in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, add gin, and shake vigorously. Strain cocktail into ice-filled glass and top off with tonic before serving. For a more impressive looking drink, layer a couple slices of jalapeño, a cucumber slice, and a sprig of basil between the ice in your glass before pouring the drink. 

Makes 1 serving 

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Blood Orange Jalapeño Whiskey Cocktail

2 oz blood orange juice or fresh citrus juice of your choice
2 oz whiskey or bourbon
1/2–1 oz agave syrup (to taste)
1 jalapeño, sliced
4 oz IPA beer

To make: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add juice, whiskey, agave syrup, and jalapeño, and shake well. Strain cocktail into an ice-filled glass, add beer, and stir.

Makes 2 servings

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Cucumber Thai Chili Lemonade

1-2 cucumbers, sliced
1 cup lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup agave syrup (to taste)
1/2 small Thai chili
3 cups cold water
1 cup vodka

To make: Add lemon juice, agave, Thai chili, water, and all but 6 of the cucumber slices to a blender and process till smooth. Strain. Stir ingredients in a pitcher filled with ice. Serve, adding a cucumber slice to each finished drink. 

Makes 6 servings

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Rum Red Bell Pepper Cocktail

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
6 basil leaves
2 oz light rum
2 oz grapefruit juice 
Club soda

To make: Muddle bell pepper and basil in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, add rum and juice, and shake vigorously. Strain into ice-filled glasses, topping off with club soda. Garnish with an additional red pepper slice if desired.

Makes 2 servings

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Pineapple Cilantro Serrano Cocktail

1-2 sprigs fresh cilantro
2-3 wedges fresh lime
1 thin slice fresh 
Serrano pepper
2 oz tequila
3 oz pineapple juice 
Agave nectar (optional, to taste)

To make: Muddle cilantro, lime, and Serrano pepper in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, add tequila and pineapple juice, and shake vigorously. Strain into ice-filled glass.

Makes 1 serving

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