A Warming Trend

Pineapple-Chipotle Margarita, as served at Rhumbar in The Mirage, $12

If you think Tabasco hot sauce is limited to culinary applications, think again. In 2005, Southern Wine & Spirits’ executive director of spirits and mixology education, Francesco Lafranconi, judged a national Tabasco cocktail competition, and since seeing what the chipotle and green pepper varieties could do for a drink, he hasn’t looked back.

It’s sneaky—Tabasco allows a bartender to add heat to a cocktail without wading into the potentially dangerous waters of using fresh or dried chilies, where heat can swing wildly from pepper to pepper. The handy chef’s tool and heat-seeking diner’s delight allows there to be consistency, and lets the sweet notes sing.

Rhumbar’s pineapple-chipotle margarita actually began life as a peach-centric affair, combining peach jam, Grand Marnier, reposado tequila and chipotle-pepper Tabasco. When Rhumbar placed it on the menu—even a rum bar needs a good tequila cocktail!—the owners swapped out the peach jam for pineapple to make it fit the place’s tropical theme, and made a few other small changes. “It is now one of our most popular cocktails, particularly in the summertime,” Rhumbar co-owner Michael Frey says. “Guests love the juxtaposition between the sweet and smoky flavors of the pineapple and chipotle.”

But no matter how you like your margarita, “The drink will only taste as good as the ingredients used in its making,” Lafranconi says, and “a bartender having fun crafting it will make it taste even better!”

Directions:

In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ounce fresh daiquiri mix (1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime, ½ ounce simple syrup), 3 healthy dashes (or 10 drops) Tabasco Chipotle-Pepper sauce, 1½ ounces pineapple juice, 1 ounce Monin Pineapple-Chipotle syrup, ¾ ounces orange Curaçao and 1½ ounces Sauza Hornitos Silver tequila. Add ice, cover, shake and strain over fresh cubes into a chilled zombie glass. Garnish with a wedge of fresh pineapple, lime wheel and edible orchid or a dried morita chipotle pepper for even more fire in your belly.

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