Now that we’re safely past soaring summer temperatures it’s time to turn our attention the heatwave passing through Brooklyn’s bars. Bartenders around the borough have been turning up the dial on the spice, coming up with some wickedly piquant, mouthwatering–and maybe a little eye-watering–cocktails. Whether you prefer your sauce mild, medium or hot, we’ve rounded up our top peppery picks on the spirit scene, just in time for the last long weekend of summer–or the first long weekend of the fall, however you choose to look at it.
To get schooled in the art of cocktail spice, head to Bed-Stuy’s Project Parlor. Don’t bother perusing the lengthy cocktail list–just go ahead and ask for the Wicked Witch. Made up of Jim Beam Rye, gooseberry jam, chocolate bitters, Worcester sauce, and a dab of hot sauce, you’ll taste notes both sharp and sweet, with a blaze of an aftertaste. If you can’t take the heat, try some water–it worked for Dorothy. $7
Do you have a habit of adding hot sauce to everything you eat? If so, Pete’s Candy Store will obligingly apply the principle to your cocktail as well. The mixologists at this Williamsburg watering hole take smokey peppers and turn them into a Chipotle Sunrise, made with tequila, chipotles, ginger syrup, agave, lime, and a dab of adobe seasoning as the finishing touch. Your lips will be on fire in the most pleasant way possible. $10
For a cooler temperature on the spiciness thermometer, tell the fine bartender Chris at Crown Height’s Franklin Park that you’re in the mood for the Baptist. He first crafted the drink upon our request for something firey that wasn’t the usual Bloody Mary or spicy margarita, so remind him that he combined black strap molasses, rum, horseradish, lime juice, soda water, and a dash of hot sauce to successfully quench our, and now your, thirst for flames. $7
The barkeep at Fort Greene’s No. 7 admits that most patrons order Whore Water because of its salacious moniker, but it’s far from diluted as the name might suggest. This flavorful concoction’s base is tequila, with jalapenos, Thai basil, and muddled watermelon to round out the taste, garnished with a slice of the pink stuff for the finishing touch. Like any feisty broad, it starts out sweet but ends with an irresistible kick. $12
Sometimes change can be an anxious affair, especially in the mixed drinks department: What if you don’t like it, or it’s too sweet or strong? If this stands between you and trying something new, play it safe at Cobble Hill’s Clover Club, known for its extensive classic cocktail list and its trendy 1930s vibe. When we asked for something with a kick, they took an old favorite–the Old Fashioned–and turned up the heat by swapping out the usual bourbon for an ancho-infused one instead. The subtle, yet mild distinction may be all the seasoning you need to reinvent your mainstay without having to stray too far into virgin territory. $12
We really tried hard to steer clear from the spicy margarita–one of the most obvious go-tos in libations that set mouths aflame, but we’re here to give you the best of what burns, and the spiciest, tastiest cocktail we’ve had the good fortune to imbibe is La Superior’s Tamarindo margarita. The Williamsburg eatery masters the Mexican mainstay by using Herradura Blanco, triple sec, tamarind nectar, fresh lime, and pequin pepper. Order one and you’ll be given fair warning–“It’s really spicy”–as well as instructions to give your drink a good stir. (The secret ingredient, Valentina Salsa Picante, is added last; it foams up when shaken.) You’ll want to make sure you have a glass of water nearby in case you accidentally chase your salsa and chips with the diabolic drink. Hot stuff. $6 in a rocks glass/$11 in a pint glass