Here in New York, the temperature has taken a nosedive for the winter, which makes me wonder, is that why I’m seeing so many scorching hot cocktails around town these days? As a major hub of mixology, I’ve noticed that Manhattan’s finest bartenders have been flirting with habanero-infused vodkas, rare chiles and even hot-sauce in their newest cocktail concoctions. These peppery tipples have been popping up on diverse drink menus around the city. I think I’ve spotted a hot trend.
At Mari Vanna, the gorgeous NYC outpost of the chic Moscow-based dinner club, more than 15 vodkas are infusing behind the bar at any given time, including a scorching hot pepper vodka along with a sinus-clearing horseradish infused vodka (pictured above). “We infuse Mari Vanna’s pepper vodka with a ton of red jalapeño peppers and the horseradish vodka with a bunch of sliced horseradish roots. The ingredients sit in the jar of vodka for seven days to really soak up the flavor. One sip of either of these spicy infusions, but particularly the pepper one, and any cold or flu should be wiped away! It’ll clear you right up,” said Tatiana Brunetti, owner of Mari Vanna.
Could super-spicy infused vodka cocktails kill the common cold? I pondered this very question over a Piquant Bloody Mary at Brooklyn’s newest Southwestern-themed restaurant, Piquant. Made with house-infused orange habenero vodka, tomato juice, cilantro, horseradish, fresh lime juice and plenty of hot sauce, this slow-burning bloody managed to spice up my brunch routine. I’m not sure if it managed to kill any viruses I may have been harboring, however.
At La Esquina, the no longer ‘secret’ Mexican speakeasy-style eatery, a shockingly refreshing, beer based cocktail has appeared on the menu. Called the Michelada, this chill drink is made with Mexican beer and chipotle puree, served over ice with a dash of lime and a salted rim—adding a subtle kick to your refreshing pint.
Even some of Manhattan’s most upscale hotels—including the Surrey—have a spicy cocktail to offer. Bar Pleiades (pictured), a luxe black and white lounge located on the ground floor of the recently refurbished hotel, offers a spicy/sweet cocktail called the Southern Fashion created by Canadian mixologist Cameron Bogue. The Southern Fashion is “a bourbon based drink that I infuse with Espelette, a chile from the northern Basque region in France [that] is a favorite to many chefs as it packs quite a bit of flavor without being too hot,” noted the passionate-about-peppers Bogue. Whether you like a little, or a lot, of heat, super-spicy cocktails are sure to warm up imbibers this winter. Cheers!