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Shaken Or Stirred: NYC’s Best Spicy Cocktails

Some like it hot (like me!), and if there’s one thing I can’t resist it’s a spicy craft cocktail. Hot food and drink really is like a drug for me: insanely addictive, and once I stop I just keep craving more. And as someone who puts hot sauce on their toast, and who’s also dedicated their life to booze (I’m a certified sommelier, after all), I decided to give myself a mission: find the best spicy cocktails in the city. Without further adieu, here are some of my top picks for NYC’s best spicy cocktails.

nyc spicy cocktails
Smoke N Spice

1. Smoke N Spice

Decoy, West Village

This cocktail packs some heat with Thai Chili-infused Fidencio Mezcal, pineapple, Aperol, Sriracha bitters and lime. The mix of the Thai Chili-infused Mezcal along with the Sriracha bitters gives the cocktail a smokey spice that hits you in the back of your throat while the pineapple acts as a sweet cooling element. Says Casey Wallin, creator of the Smoke n Spice, “With people becoming more and more cocktail savvy I love it when you give someone a cocktail and they try to deconstruct it into it’s basic ingredients. When I created the ‘Smoke and Spice’ I wanted to make a cocktail that stimulated a sensory experience. So when you taste the cocktail you get a perfect balance of the feeling of spice (Thai chili) and the tastes of sweet (pineapple), sour (lime) and bitter (Sriracha bitters/Aperol).”

nyc spicy cocktails

 2. Cilan-tini

Jazz at Kitano, Midtown East

While cilantro is something you’ll usually find on meats as a seasoning, at Jazz at Kitano it’s also found in a spicy cocktails. The “Cilan-tini” is a layered drink with chile-pepper, tomato, cilantro and citrus juices. Not only is it light and fresh compared with many other cocktails, its also packed with vitamins for a healthy (and hot!) punch. Says Yasuyuki Kojima, Director of Food & Beverage, ““We were inspired to create the Cilan-tini as a play on healthy cocktails with a little bit of kick. A savory martini offered in JAZZ at KITANO, the Cilan-tini is the perfect alternative to a Bloody Mary for brunch!”

spicy cocktails
Rio Bravo

3. Rio Bravo

The Skylark, Midtown West

Created by Mixologist Johnny Swet, the “Rio Bravo” is made with Dos Amigos Reposado Tequila, Ancho Chili Liquor, muddled grilled tomatillos, agave, cilantro and lime. Each sip of this spicy creation packs a flavorful punch that balances heat with subtle touches of sweetness, offering a great complement to the cool fall weather. Says Swet, “The Rio Bravo was inspired by my Dad, who was a huge John Wayne fan. Growing up I must have seen that movie at least 20 times and I was always intrigued by the landscape of the Southwest. This drink has all those flavors from spicy ancho chili to tomatillos and tequila.”

spicy cocktails
Santana’s Sour

4. Santana’s Sour

Hyatt Times Square’s Bar 54, Times Square

Created by mixologist Julie Reiner, this tasty concoction features Cabeza Blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, jalapeno syrup, cilantro leafs, pineapple chunks and a garnish of pineapple stick and leaf. The tequila is the star of the show, made with 100% estate-grown agave, cultivated without pesticides in the Los Altos region in Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico. As you sip the full bodied cocktail, you’ll undoubtedly detect intoxicating flavors of agave and jalapeno spice — perfect for those with an adventurous palate. Says Reiner, “The ‘Santana’s Sour’ is a beautiful cocktail showcasing one of my favorite tequilas on the market, Cabeza Blanco. Tequila pairs beautifully with savory ingredients such as cilantro and jalapeño. This drink has just the right amount of heat without being too spicy. We make the jalapeño syrup in house, so we are able to control the spice. The addition of pineapple to the drink gives it a bright fruity note, as well.”

spicy cocktails
8-Layer Dip

5. 8-Layer Dip

Hill Country Barbecue, Downtown Brooklyn & NoMad

This liquid explosion of layered flavor — eight, to be exact — was created to reflect what Hill Country Barbecue does with their meats. The bar team experimented with all sorts of ingredient combinations until they found something to be proud of. The “8-Layer Dip” packs pickle slices, pickled jalapenos, Tito’s Vodka, Tanteo Jalapeno Vodka and a smoked tomato juice infused with hot sauce, salt, pepper and citrus into a smoked salt-rimmed Mason Jar garnished with olives skewers and lime wedges. Like your favorite spicy party dip — that you can drink (and get buzzed from!). Says Mixologist and Creator Marc Glosserman, “You’ll notice a lot of smoked ingredients, and our inspiration was to have our customers enjoy smoked meat with an equally delicious and spicy smoked cocktail to wash it down with. If you couldn’t already tell, this goes great with our brisket.”

spicy cocktails
Smoke and Fire Margarita

6. Smoke And Fire Margarita

Hakkasan, Hell’s Kitchen

Classic margaritas are known for the sweet and tangy taste; however, with the “Smoke and Fire Margarita” you’re also adding savory and spicy elements that take the traditional libation to a new level. Featuring Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, Montelobos Mezcal, Milagro Silver Tequila, fresh lime juice and agave nectar, you’ll notice heavenly notes of tamarind, plum, cacao, apple and almonds — even some fine herbs. On the finish there’s a pleasantly lingering pungent taste. Says drink creator Camille Austin of Hakkasan,“ The ‘Smoke and Fire Margarita’ has the perfect balance of spicy, savory and sweet taste that every great margarita should have.”

Have you sampled any great spicy cocktails in NYC?

About Jessie Festa

Jessie Festa is an New York-based travel content creator who is passionate about empowering her audience to experience new places and live a life of adventure. She is the founder of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and is editor-in-chief of Epicure & Culture, an online conscious tourism magazine. Along with writing, Jessie is a professional photographer and is the owner of NYC Photo Journeys, which offers New York photo tours, photo shoots, and wedding photography. Her work has appeared in publications like USA Today, CNN, Business Insider, Thrillist, and WestJet Magazine.

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