Why be cold when you could be drunk? Oops, we mean warm. Or… maybe both?
Look, the winter is a stressful time. The holiday shopping season, the year coming to a close — it’s a time of deep self-reflection. We find that the best way to self-reflect is to be warm, comfortable, and have a nice buzz going. If that’s your aim, you know that sometimes eggnog just doesn’t cut it, a shot of straight alcohol is a little much, and spiked hot chocolate is too sweet to satisfy.
Well, Happy Holidays Goldilocks, because what we’ve got is just right — a spicy cocktail that tastes delicious and will add a little heat to the season’s festivities. We asked bartenders to share their favorite spicy cocktail recipes to help beat the bitter cold of winter. So grab a glass, your favorite spirits, and get to mixing.
Then pour yourself another — it’s the holidays, you deserve it!
Sunda, Chicago, Illinois
Grass Tiger is an original cocktail created by Nahm Kim, Sunda mixologist. It’s light and refreshing with citrus notes of fresh limes and oranges, and enough spice heat from the jalapeno for a winter cocktail to warm the soul with hints of lemongrass and mint.
- 1.5 oz jalapeno-infused Ransom Gin
- 0.5 oz Lemongrass Syrup (steep 2 lemongrass stalks with simple syrup for 20 mins)
- 0.5 oz Lime Juice
- 0.5 oz Orange Juice
- 4 Fresh Mint Leaves
- Splash of Ginger Beer
- Slices of Lime Wheels (garnish)
Infuse fresh slices of jalapenos into Ransom Gin (preferred brand) overnight. Taste for spice level. Add more gin to dilute if it’s too spicy. Spanked 4 fresh mint leaves, drop into a shaker with ice. Add infused gin, lemongrass syrup, lime juice & orange juice. Shake for 30 seconds then strain into a highball glass with fresh ice. Pour a splash of ginger beer over the cocktail then garnish with three slices of freshly sliced lime wheels. Serve immediately.
Bartender/Owner Aaron Peña from The Squeezebox, San Antonio, Texas
On a cold night, I like to spice it up by making a Hot Zas! The drink has a fun mix of sugar and spice to give you the perfect sip whether you’re going out with friends or just doing a Netflix night.
- Twang-A-Rita Unwind Lime
- Two dashes of Twang’s ZAS! Mango Chili
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- 3/4 oz honey syrup
- 1.5 oz apple brandy
- .5 oz creme de cacao
- 8 oz hot water
Build in a glass and stir.
Peppervine, Charlotte, North Carolina
Peppervine’s international influences take the reins on this margarita riff by substituting the traditional lime juice with yuzu syrup, lending a softer, more balanced acidity to the cocktail. The addition of spice from the jalapeño complements the subtle tart flavors and turns the refreshing classic into a spicy sipper that is sure to cut through the cold. — Peppervine Mixology Team
- 1.5 oz Corazon blanco tequila
- 1 oz yuzu jalapeño syrup
- .5 oz Cointreau
- .5 oz lime juice
- Rocks glass
- Large ice cube
- Thin lime wheel (for garnish)
- Salt (for garnish)
- Lime Zest (for garnish)
Rim a rocks glass with salt and zested lime. Then add the large ice cube. Add all ingredients and ice to the shaker and shake until cold. Strain into the garnished glass. Finish with a thin lime wheel on top of a large cube
Cafe Rule, Hickory, North Carolina
The classic margarita is built for summer, but this spin on the original can be enjoyed throughout the year. With the addition of jalapeño and cilantro, this cocktail adds spicy and vegetal notes that will keep you warm all through winter.
- 2 oz tequila
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 oz agave syrup
- Rocks glass
- Jalapeño, sliced
Muddle cilantro and one slice of jalapeño in the shaker. Add the tequila, lime juice, and agave syrup to the shaker and shake until cold. Strain into a rocks glass, then garnish with a jalapeño slice.
Bar Director Chris Zulueta at Sylvain, New Orleans, Louisiana
One of the most popular drinks at Sylvain and an original. There’s never just one ordered.
- 75 Mizu Lemongrass Shochu
- .75 Suntory Roku Gin
- 1 oz St Germain
- 75 oz Lemon
- 2 blasts Bittermens Hellfire Bitters
- Garnish with Chili Oil
Build all ingredients in shaker tin except oil. Shake and double strain into a coupe. Garnish with chili oil.
The Queen’s Cup
Beverage Director Anna Giordano, from Longway Tavern, New Orleans, Louisiana
This is a smoothly textured drink with a spicy kick at the end. The combination of strawberry, chocolate, and jalapeno is a classic. Winner of the Southern regional cocktail for Espolon Cocktail Fights, 2018.
- 1.5oz espolon reposado
- .75 oz lime juice
- .5 oz strawberry/jalapeno syrup – Simmer a pint of cut strawberries with 2 cut and seeded jalapenos in 12oz H2O and 24oz white sugar until dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes then strain.
- .5 oz Cappelletti Aperitivo
- Egg white
- Pinch of salt
- Garnished with grated cacao
For the Strawberry/Jalapeno Syrup: Simmer a pint of cut strawberries with two cut and seeded jalapenos in 12oz H2O and 24oz white sugar until dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes then strain. Dry shake all ingredients, add four large ice cubes then hard wet shake for 30 seconds, double strain into coupe, garnish .
Red Hot Aji Panca
Bartender Josh Relkin, From Boleo in Chicago, Illinois
This is a spicy, martini riff utilizing aji panca, a spicy red pepper native to Peru. It’s into the vodka for a few days and strained off. Pineau des Charantes is a French ‘aperitif’ or fortified wine, where grape juice is ‘spiked’ with brandy. It is usually fairly sweet, and low in alcohol. Amaro Nonino is on the sweeter and nuttier side of the Amaro family, and the Mole Bitters add chocolate notes and bring a bit more heat to the cocktail.
- .5 Aji Pancha Stoli
- 0.75 Park Pineau des Charentes
- 0.25 Amaro Nonino
- 1 dash Saline
- 2 dash Bitterman’s Mole Chocolate Bitters
Stir ingredients and serve up in a coupe. Express orange peel and discard.
Beverage Director Michael Morely, from Cavan, New Orleans, Louisiana
This cocktail is extremely well balanced and complex, salt makes the cocktail shine but also draws you back in round after round. Complex layers of salt and smoke with a nice citrus punch from the lemon, chili powder provides a nice immediate hit of spice on top of the cocktail.
- 1.5 oz Noble Coyote Mezcal
- .5 oz Ancho Reyes Chile liquor
- .25 oz Sardinian Vermouth
- .5 oz lemon juice
- .25 oz Demerara syrup
- El guapo fuego bitters
- Garnish with chili powder
Shake all ingredients except chili powder, double strain into a coupe glass, garnish with chili powder
The Jalapeño Margarita
Regional Food & Beverages Director Patrick Hendricks, From Garduño’s at Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The perfect amount of sweet and Spice without allowing any of the flavors to overpower the other. Each Sip of the drink starts sweet and tangy and then leaves the spice of the jalapeno lingering on the palate. The fresh lime juice ties together the contrasting flavors and makes the Jalapeno Margarita an award-winning favorite.
- 1.5 oz Patron Reposado
- .5 oz Agave Nectar
- 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 3 Slices of Fresh Jalapeno
- 2 oz water
Muddle the Jalapeno gently then add all ingredients . Shake and strain into a margarita glass with fresh ice . Garnish the rim with salt and red chili .