16 Spicy Cocktails That Turn Up the Heat

Spicy cocktails are fascinating and come in an array of interesting flavors. The recipes feature ingredients like hot sauce, chili peppers, and even a little wasabi. When you get the right balance, these drinks offer an adventure in flavor for anyone who appreciates all things hot and spicy.

Beware of Too Much Spice

The key to creating a palatable spicy drink is to go slow. Start with a small amount of the hot ingredient and build it up to your taste the next time you make that drink. Alcohol tends to intensify the heat, so if your first drink of the night burns your taste buds, it's hard for them to bounce back.

Spicy cocktails require more attention to balance than many other styles of drinks. For this reason, it's a good idea to start out with tested recipes. By doing so, you will learn how jalapeños, habaneros, and hot sauces react when they're mixed.

You will also notice that many of these recipes pair the spicy element with sweeter or cooling mixers that put out a bit of the fire. Fruits like mango, grapefruit, and orange are perfect for this job and the contrast of flavors is invigorating.

  • 01 of 16

    Bloody Maria

    Bloody Maria Tequila Cocktail

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

    When you switch from vodka to tequila, you transform the famous bloody mary into the equally tasty bloody maria. It's the same great drink, but the tequila background makes a big difference.

    As with any "bloody" cocktail, you can spice it up as much as you like. The tomato juice absorbs a lot of the heat, so you can be a little more liberal with the horseradish and Tabasco. Have fun and make this recipe your own.

  • 02 of 16

    Michelada

    Spicy Michelada Mexican Beer

    The Spruce Eats

    Another essential drink for any spice lover is the popular michelada. It's a fun way to dress up your beer and a good recipe to test out how much heat you can actually handle.

    The recipe is quite simple and Mexican beer is key to creating an authentic michelada. To that, you'll add lime juice and soy and Worcestershire sauces, along with your favorite hot sauce. This is a drink where you can put that hot sauce collection to work.

  • 03 of 16

    Spicy Paloma

    Stone Rose Lounge's Spicy Paloma Tequila Cocktail

    The Spruce Eats / Stone Rose Lounge

    Infusing liquor with chili peppers is a fun and slightly more subtle way to bring a little spice into cocktails. There are countless ways to go about it, though this twist on the refreshing paloma is a bit unusual.

    Typically, you would infuse the tequila, but the spicy paloma prefers to add chili peppers to Aperol, a bitter orange aperitif. To say that it's fascinating against the drink's grapefruit is an understatement.

  • 04 of 16

    Fall Spice Cordial

    Fall Spice Cordial Cocktail
    Steve Brown Photography / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    ​Similar to a liquor infusion, you can create some interesting cocktails by spicing up the drink's sweetener. Since simple syrup is easy to make at home, it's the ideal venue for a little heat.

    The fall spice cordial recipe is the perfect example of how it's done. The tantalizing flavor is a mix of bourbon, vanilla liqueur, and a hint of orange. The key ingredient is the homemade chipotle-orange syrup and it's quite tasty.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    Pineapple Chili Margarita

    Pineapple Chili Margarita Tequila Cocktail Recipe
    Foodcollection / Getty Images

    The family of margaritas is one of the more obvious cocktail styles begging for some spicy peppers. Tequila and chili peppers are staples in Mexican cuisine, so it's only natural to bring them together in a few drinks.

    The pineapple chili margarita is shaken and served on the rocks, so it's very easy. With the first sip, you'll appreciate how the tart pineapple offsets the heat of the habanero sauce to create a very enjoyable drink.

  • 06 of 16

    Jalapeño Margarita

    Jalapeno Margarita With Chili Rim

    bhofack2 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

    A delicate balance of spicy and sweet is found in the jalapeño margarita. It's an excellent dinner cocktail that shows off your favorite aged tequila.

    The recipe builds off the original margarita base of tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur. It muddles a jalapeño pepper and you can control the heat by adding as many slices as you like. To help marry the flavors, orange bitters and agave nectar finish it off perfectly.

  • 07 of 16

    Habanero Blood Orange Margarita

    Habanero Blood Orange Margarita Cocktail from La Sandia's

    The Spruce / La Sandia's

    ​The habanero pepper is one of the hottest you'll want to add to drinks, though you still need to proceed with caution. This chili pepper requires a gentle touch and ingredients to cool things down.

    The habanero blood orange margarita blends blood orange juice with habanero to create a spicy purée. It's mixed with reposado tequila, lime juice, and sour mix, and the glass has a mole negro rim.

  • 08 of 16

    Cucumber Mint Margarita

    Frozen Cucumber Mint Margarita with Tabasco Sauce

    Tabasco

    Some drinks play the heat against cooling flavors to create an intriguing contrast. That's exactly what you'll find in the cucumber mint margarita.

    This blended cocktail is captivating. Inside, you'll find the light oak of reposado tequila and hints of citrus, including key lime juice. The base is accented with the refreshing taste of fresh cucumber and mint, while a little Tabasco turns up the heat.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Red Pepper Sangrita Margarita

    Red Pepper Sangrita Margarita Cocktail
    Tony Robins / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    A sort of hybrid cocktail, this recipe brings together everything that's great about the sangrita shot, bloody maria, and margarita.

    For the red pepper sangrita margarita, you will only need two ingredients: A shot of tequila and a homemade pepper mix. It's easy and combines tomato juice, sour mix, a red pepper purée, and as much habanero hot sauce as you can handle.

  • 10 of 16

    Habanero Martini

    Habanero Martini

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

    When you simply want to toss a pepper into a cocktail, the habanero martini is a fun choice.

    For this cocktail, you'll start out with a variation on the tequini: Shake and strain reposado tequila and dry vermouth. Adding the habanero garnish will slowly infuse the pepper's heat into the drink. As soon as you notice the spice is perfect, remove the pepper and enjoy the remainder of your martini.

  • 11 of 16

    Cucumber Wasabi Martini

    Cucumber Wasabi Martini
    Bill Boch / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    If you have yet to try wasabi in a drink, this recipe offers the perfect opportunity.

    The cucumber wasabi martini is a very intriguing mix. It begins with a muddle of cucumber and syrup with a dollop of the green horseradish paste common in Japanese cuisine. In an unusual twist, this cocktail prefers gin. The spirit's botanicals work surprisingly well against the drink's cool and spicy ingredients.

  • 12 of 16

    Mango Spice

    Mango Spice Cocktail
    alejandrophotography / iStock / Getty Images Plus

    Mango is sometimes overlooked in cocktails, though the tropical fruit makes a delightful pairing for jalapeño. This fruity vodka martini brings the two together in perfect harmony.

    The mango spice cocktail uses both mango vodka and nectar, muddling the latter with slices of fresh pepper and agave nectar. The flavored vodka, lime juice, and orange bitters are added, and it's shaken to create a cohesive, pleasant flavor.

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Sweet Heat

    Chilli vodka cocktail garnished with lime wedges

    Getty Images / Tim Macpherson

    A far more unusual combination, the sweet heat cocktail pairs habanero with ginger. If there's one cocktail in which you shouldn't stray from the recipe, this is it.

    Maintaining a balance of flavors is absolutely essential. It requires a single slice of habanero and ginger vodka. Lime juice, agave nectar, and a candied ginger garnish bridge the gap between those two spice flavors rather nicely.

  • 14 of 16

    Spicy Pineapple Shandy

    Spicy Pineapple Shandy

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

    The shandy formula of beer and lemonade offers many interesting flavor possibilities. This recipe gives it both a tropical and spicy spin.

    In the spicy pineapple shandy recipe, you'll make a sort of pineapple lemonade from scratch. It's spiked with tequila and sweetened with jalapeño syrup and shakes up just like any other cocktail. When that's done, simply top the glass with your favorite pale ale and enjoy.

  • 15 of 16

    Devil Cocktail

    Classic Devil Cocktail
    Fotosearch / Getty Images

    ​As the name may suggest, the devil cocktail is a bit deceptive, and not as genteel as it may look. However, it works out rather well.

    The key to this drink is to ignore the initial impression you get from reading the ingredients. With an open mind, the first sip of this brandy and crème de menthe cocktail laced with cayenne pepper may just surprise you!

  • 16 of 16

    Tequila Cocoa Caliente

    Tequila Cocoa Caliente

    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

    A little spice can transform the average cup of hot chocolate into something spectacular. This is no standard cocoa recipe, and it requires a little planning.

    The tequila cocoa caliente requires a homemade cinnamon-serrano tequila infusion. After a couple of days, it's ready to mix into a steaming cup of milk flavored with Mexican table chocolate. Add a cinnamon stick and chili pepper garnish, and sit down with an indulgent, flavorful treat.