Want To Spice Up Your Cocktails? Learn To Add Heat Without Burning Your Fingers
Trying to make a spicy cocktail? Then, remember, you are walking on a tightrope. First, the heat preference differs widely from one drinker to another. For few drinkers, even sprinkles of black pepper are too hot, and there are others who pride themselves on being able to gulp down a ghost pepper infused cocktail!
If you may have got the basics of mixology right - using accurate measurements, have control over various methods involved in cocktail making and that’s great. But when playing with heat, even the best bartenders choose to err on the side of caution. Different peppers and chilies have varying degrees of spiciness. How does an amateur bartender perfect the art of making a spicy cocktail? Below are a few suggestions that will definitely make you more confident about going ahead with adding heat to your alcoholic drinks.
Guidelines To Make A Balanced Spicy Cocktail
Technique 1: Infuse a Spirit
Infusing In A Clean Spirit
- Infusion works in a great way when you are making a batch of spicy cocktails. You can choose flavorful peppers such as fresh jalapeño, serrano or habanero for this process.
- Know that alcohol captures flavours well so the infusion process won't take too long.
- Use unaged spirits such as blanco tequila, mezcal, gin as you can create a flavour of your liking
- The quantity of peppers depends on the kind of peppers you use. Different peppers have different levels of heat. Where two-three jalapeños work for a 750-millilitre bottle of spirit, a single pepper of habanero gives equal amount of heat for the same alcohol amount.
- Use thin slices of pepper for maximum extraction. If you want more flavour and less heat, deseed the peppers.
- Once you add peppers to the alcohol, make sure you are tasting the infusion every minute, stirring constantly
- Strain immediately off the peppers once the concoction attains the desired level of heat.
- Protip: use half of the spirit you plan to add to the batch. In case your infusion has high levels of heat, you can cut it by adding the rest of the clean spirit.
Infusing In A Liqueur
-Due to the sweet flavour of liqueur, the heat will not overpower it.
-If you are using high-sugar liqueurs such as triple sec, before using the pepper, chop and freeze it so that its flavours release easily.
-The ideal formula is 100 gms of pepper per litre of liqueur, let it sit at room temperature for 90 minutes
-Infusing peppers in liqueur won't have the same intensity as infusing them in clean spirits
Technique 2: Steep Into Syrup
- Simple syrup is another way to add heat into your drink, but sugar and water don't soak in the heat as well as alcohol does. Hence, you need to heat the simple syrup, only to the point where the mixture just about simmers, and then turn off the heat.
- You need dried ingredients such as crushed red pepper flakes or bird's eye chilies.
- Stir 1% of the syrup's total weight in crushed dried chilies. For instance if you made a litre of syrup, then add 10 gms of chilies to it.
- Keep a close eye on the mix, stirring regularly and tasting every minute.
- Once you get the heat in the syrup as per your desire, strain out the solids. The sugary-spicy syrup is ready to use.
Technique 3: Use A Tincture
- Using a spicy tincture is the easiest way to add heat to your cocktail.
- A tincture is deployed in miniscule amounts, i.e. a few drops per drink.
- Take half a bottle (375 ml) high-proof neutral spirit and pour it in a resealable container, add thinly sliced fresh peppers or crushed dried peppers of your choice
- You can let it soak in for an hour to several days, depending on the level of heat you want to acquire.
- Ensure the heat packs a punch as only a few drops of it will be used in making the cocktail.
- Once the alcohol attains the desired amount of heat, strain off the peppers and store it in an eyedropper bottle for use.
Balancing The Heat
- Peppers have alkaline oil whose intensity can be cut with acidity, so you can use lime and lemon juice to balance the heat.
- If you are making stirred cocktail, then you can use sugar to balance the heat, as sugar absorbs the oil and also changes the taste a little bit.
- Egg-whites also come in handy when you need to balance the spiciness in the cocktail. Egg whites soften the heat level of peppers just as they balance the acidity in citrus ingredients.
- Remember that peppers in any form release their heat which is air-borne
- Make sure to use gloves and clean the kitchen surface well