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The Science of Spice: How Capsaicin Enhances The Alcohol Experience

chilli in cocktails

If you have ever eaten a really spicy variant of red or green chilli and gone through the notoriously horrid minutes when your nose and eyes are all drippy, you would know that the element which introduces this heat into chillies is capsaicin. This ingredient present in chilli peppers creates a warming sensation in the mouth and the spiciness induces tons of sweating which enables a healthy release of toxins especially when you consume them in tropical climes. Having a salad bowl or grilled meats and sandwiches or even curries infused with peppers heightens the proportions of capsaicin in these recipes, making them appealing but also packing quite a bit of a spicy kick.

Capsaicin is a very vibrant oil indeed and when chillies are mixed in cocktail concoctions, its warmth and flavour oozes into the drink and gives a delightful and unexpected twist to the alcoholic beverage. Many times, flavours of whisky or rum carry some smoky notes and intense flavours that pair well with the robust profile of chillies, made prominent by the presence of capsaicin. 

Next time you enjoy a mango chilli martini, you would know that the spiciness undercutting the aromas and sweet flavour profiles of the beverage provide a good balance to the drink making it utterly irresistible. Read on below to know more about how the presence of capsaicin can in fact enhance your overall drinking experience:

Releases Endorphins

Myth or no, capsaicin is known to release endorphins, or the ‘feel good’ hormone in the body which leads to a happier mood and lots of good times. Introducing this oil through spice-infused syrups into a cocktail mix would then definitely enhance your shot at having an absolutely happy time at any party. 

Enhances Flavours

Along with making you happy, capsaicin also contributes to elevating the overall flavour profile of any cocktail. When blended with lime juice and bitters with a splash of carbonated soda, capsaicin adds a whole new layer of flavour to any concoction. It creates a rather complex mix of ingredients for a highly nuanced take on classic mixology by becoming an utter explosion of vibrant flavours for the taste buds. 

chilli in cocktail

Creates A Fine Balance

When you are having a drink that is too syrupy or extra sweet, a dash of chilli brings to it an unexpected taste that counteracts the saccharine qualities of the cocktail and provides it with a much-needed flavour balance. This is a particularly neat trick especially while crafting sweet cocktails like a manhattan that already contains macerated cherries and sweet vermouth. Sprinkling some chilli powder into the drink would nicely even it out if you want a less sweet version of the classic cocktail.

Reduces Buzz

It is said that capsaicin is so spicy an oil that it automatically makes you super alert and awake. The jolt that you get from its strong and vibrant flavour would keep you on your toes and reduce the speed of the buzz that alcohol would induce. 

Pairs With Diverse Spirits

Chillies are a distinguished ingredient in themselves but are versatile enough to pair with a host of different spirits. You can then add chilli powder to any vodka, rum or tequila cocktail without worrying about the effect it might have on the drink. This is because no matter the spirit, the heat of a spicy syrup would only elevate and brighten its notes allowing you an experience of a cocktail that is perfectly brought together with the presence of this quality ingredient.

chilli in cocktail

Creates A Unique Blend

It goes without saying that notes of chilli in chocolates and spirits create a profoundly complex and unique pairing of sweet and spicy flavours. Especially in cocktail recipes, capsaicin works towards crafting a blend that is powerfully enhanced in flavour because its spiciness actually compliments all the other ingredients in the drink. This is apparent in a concoction like a spicy margarita which uses jalapeños to add heat that forms a fine marriage with citrus elements crafting a unique mix of flavours.