How to Make the Perfect Spicy Tequila Drink

spicy tequila recipes
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The Tippling Bros., a.k.a. Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay, the duo behind the Mercadito Group and the cocktail haven The Tippler NYC, are tequila proselytizers, and urge us to break out of our frozen margarita slump.


Their book, A Lime and a Shaker: Discovering Mexican-Inspired Cocktails is not only a recipe collection of every Mexicali cocktail imaginable, but also a primer on tequila, a cheat sheet for mixology, and a how-to on making infused booze, flavored syrups, spiced salts, and other offbeat mixers for the perfect springtime beverage.

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Instead of opting for those machine-made frozen margs on a sunny day, crank up the heat with one of the Tippling Bros spicy tequila creations. These hot sauce and pepper-infused cocktails naturally regulate temperature, and have added benefits for Spring—chile peppers contain capsaicin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that stimulates circulation, triggers endorphins, and aids seasonal respiratory and sinus ailments. Chile peppers are packed with vitamins. They are a mood lifter. They are also an aphrodisiac. Do you need any more reason to add a dash of tequila?

We asked The Tippling Bros why spice and tequila work so well together. “It’s all about ‘place.’ Agave and chiles are born from the same soil and have been cultivated and used concurrently for centuries, so it just makes perfect sense that they work in harmony in cocktails.”

Sampled from A Lime and a Shaker, here are three recipes that will up your tequila game, and the temperature, too.

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Spicy Sandia

  • 2 oz reposado tequila
  • 4 (1-inch) chunks ripe seedless watermelon
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 3 dashes El Yucateco red habanero, Valentina, or Cholula hot sauce
  • 1 cup ice

(We generally think of watermelon cooling us down on scorching summer afternoons. No such relief with this one. While you get all the flavor, if it weren’t for the ice, this one’d light you up like the Fourth of July.)

  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass. Garnish with the watermelon slice.

Spicy Chino

  • 1½ oz blanco tequila
  • 1½ oz pear puree
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes Bittermens or Bitter End mole bitters
  • 3 oz ginger beer

(Chino is a colloquial nickname for a good friend, and this simple and satisfying drink wants to be your buddy. If pear puree is unavailable, pear nectar or juice will also do the trick.)

  1. Add all the ingredients except for the ginger beer to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake.  Strain over fresh ice in a highball glass.
  3. Top with the ginger beer and stir.
  4. Garnish with pear slices and the bitters.

Los Hermanos

  • 2 oz joven mezcal
  • 2 oz passion fruit puree
  • ¾ oz agave nectar
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 2 dashes El Yucateco green habanero hot sauce

(Named for brothers: in blood, in spirit, in business. Boldly flavored, racy, spicy, and smoky, there’s no gray area here; this is a big daddy of a cocktail.)

  1. Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake.
  3. Strain over fresh ice in an old-fashioned glass with a salt and black pepper half rim and garnish with the mint leaf.

Bonus tip:

“We love using chile-laced salts to add heat, flavor and dimension to a cocktail. Any dried chile will work. Experimentation is key. Just add one part of the dried chile powder to two parts salt and throw in a little sugar to balance the burn. We recommend pouring the salt into a shallow dish and using an orange, cut in half, to moisten half the rim of the glass. Roll the glass in the salt and tap off the excess. This will create a wide swath of the chile-salt over half the glass. It looks sexy as hell, and it allows your guests to choose whether they want to heat up their night!”

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