By Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef

I remember oh so long ago, back when I had my first beverage manager position, I implemented a cocktail with jalapeño. While I was muddling the jalapeno, a woman commented, “All you need is some chips and we could have guacamole.” Now-a-days, jalapeño is a staple on most cocktail menus.

People have experimented with jalapeno’s smokey cousin, the chipotle pepper, which is just a smoked and dried jalapeño. This particular pepper gives off a fantastic sweet, smokey notes with medium spice and is a great addition with aged spirits; the fresh jalapeño tends to lend itself better with clear spirits.

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Keeping the spiciness of each pepper in mind is important when making cocktails. The spiciness will determine whether the pepper can be muddled, infused and for what length of time the infusion would need to marinate. One method would beThe Scoville Scale that measures the capsaicin found in peppers, so the higher the capsaicin, the hotter the pepper. To give a better idea…a bell pepper would read at 0 units and the habanero would read at 200,000 Scoville units and the ghost pepper would come in at a bit above 1,000,000. Now the hottest pepper is the Carolina reaper coming in at 2,200,000 units!

Another method, which I would only recommend with a gallon of milk, would be to bite the peppers and see for yourself. 

According to Google Trends, Searches for "Spicy Cocktails" have been on the rise since 2011 and have spiked even further upward in 2016.

Besides the known peppers out there, I enjoy using aji peppers, roccoto peppers, poblano peppers, cascabel, mulato peppers, guajillo peppers, thai chiles or some great hot sauce. Keeping with the spicy family, though NOT peppers, I enjoy utilizing long pine peppercorns, wasabi, ginger, horseradish, and mustard. Spicy can be applied directly into a drink, or it can be found in something like the rimmers we make, which can add spice to the entry of the cocktail.

It seems these days that wherever you go, you will find at least one spicy cocktail on a cocktail menu. The chile pepper trend is constantly pushing the envelope on just how spicy consumers can handle. The variety of peppers available is also helping this trend.

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