Spicy Sway

I think like most people, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with tequila. Most of my memories of it involve shooters on spring break, shooters at nightclubs, or shooters at house parties. Sound familiar?

Photos by ADV Photography

As my tastes have matured, I’ve grown to appreciate the spirit more and more. Cocktails like the Margarita and Tequila Sour have made it much more accessible for me, and they’re recipes I find myself going back to time and time again.

But it wasn’t until Brandon’s post on the Amante Picante that I came to a startling revelation:

Tequila + Spice = VERY Nice!

The recipe uses tequila as its base, with an added kick of hot sauce. I was weirded out at first, but it ended up being an eye-opening experience. I had tasted a few spicy cocktails before, but nothing like this. The tequila was such a great vessel for the heat, and it’s been one of my go-to drinks ever since. I never knew I loved spicy drinks so much!

I love it so much in fact, that I’ve put it on several menus for private parties at which I’ve bar tended. People are a little apprehensive at first: “Hot sauce in a cocktail?” But after trying a few sips, they’re converted. My conclusion: people love spicy drinks.

Using it as inspiration, I came up with my own take:


1 ½ oz tequila blanco
¾ oz Ancho Reyes
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz lime juice
¾ oz egg white
2 dashes celery bitters
3 cilantro sprigs

In a cocktail shaker, add all ingredients except egg white and muddle. Add egg white and ice and shake well. Discard the ice and shake a second time. Double-strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a cilantro sprig and lime zest.

Instead of using a sauce for spice, why not more booze?

For the uninitiated, Ancho Reyes is a liqueur with notes of chili, soy sauce, and brown sugar. When I realized how much I loved spicy cocktails, trying Ancho for the first time was like discovering a missing link. It adds just enough spice and ups the booze. Win-win! The result is a moderately spicy cocktail.

Tequila and Ancho were made for each other, and the lime and cilantro flavours are a nod to both the Margarita and the Amante Picante. The egg white adds texture and helps cut the spice a bit, while the celery bitters provide hints of orange and lemongrass to compliment the lime and cilantro.

I served this cocktail at a party and it was a hit. Many of the guests had never tried a spicy cocktail before and were pleasantly surprised. It was based on their feedback that I tweaked my initial recipe and upped the Ancho just a tad.

It all goes to show that my theory is correct: People love spicy drinks… some just don’t know it yet.


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