Sub-prime summer temps gotcha chillin’ too much? Warm things up with habanero-infused tequila, an easy-to-make and always exciting spirit.
Ever since drinking the Picante Margarita at Bonita in Brooklyn, I’ve been thoroughly convinced that spicy drinks are the new awesome thing that everyone should try. They have this superb tiered attack of the tongue, first hitting you with the immediate rush of spiciness that befuddles the senses, and then following that up with the warm nature of the spirit. It’s like a really quick action-adventure movie with a sweetly romantic ending in your mouth. Exactly like that. So, being that we couldn’t visit the lovely Bonita every night (try their vegetable tacos sans cheese—super-good), we took matters into our own hands and infused tequila at home and came up with a comparable drink recipe.
We’ve infused vodkas in the past with things like ginger, lemongrass, basil, strawberries, and all kinds of things. In each case, the time that the liquor needs to infuse varies depending on the potency and porousness of the additives, but it usually took us a week to a month or more. One of the nice things about infusing with a pepper as notoriously potent as the habanero is that it only takes about three days.
Here’s what you do:
• First off, buy a bunch of habaneros. Not sure which peppers they are? They’re the squat little ones that usually vary in color as they ripen from green to yellow to orange to red. These guys.
• Now, carefully quarter anywhere from 3 to 7 peppers, entirely depending on how much you like very, very hot things. For further control over the heat, remove the seeds of the peppers for less spice, leave them in for maximum fiery-ness. Note that some people go as far as wearing surgical gloves when slicing these peppers. Honesty, they’re mad hot. Be really careful, wash you hands well after handling and cutting them, and DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES. Speaking from experience here, unfortunately. Oh…careful going to the…um…restroom as well.
• Toss however many peppers you like straight into a fresh 1 liter bottle of tequila. We like to either wash off the label, so it looks nicer and you can see the peppers, or find a nice mason jar or other pretty container to fancy things up when not using the original bottle.
• Let the bottle sit in a cool, dry, dark place—say a cabinet—for 3+ days. Three will likely do ya, but 4 and 5 will make for a spicier, more infused drink and, as it sits beyond that, it will only get spicier, absorbing both the taste and color from the peppers over time.
• Now enjoy your weirdly-chilly summer day by unleashing your inner fire with a sip of this tequila straight. Or, alternatively, mix this lovely, party-tested cocktail up:
As noted on the recipe, feel free to tone this drink down a bit by mixing in non-peppery tequila. Also as noted, don’t touch your eyes, yo.