A twist on the classic, a bit of mezcal, ancho chile liqueur and spicy bitters combine forces to give the Negroni a smoky and piquant finish. “The most common misconception around spicy cocktails is that they're just heat and no nuance or flavor—but when you tap into spice with actual flavor by using the right ingredients, you can create a nice, savory drink with some serious heat,” says Erin Cusick, a bartender at Clover Club in New York City. “For some extra kick, you could infuse your mezcal or any other base spirit with your own custom pepper combination,” Cusick adds. “This could be as simple as throwing some sliced jalapeños into a container of spirit, or a curated mélange of hot peppers, depending on the flavors and level of heat you’re hoping to achieve. Either way, check in on the mixture after one hour to see how you like it, and then taste every hour after that until you deem it ready. If you want extremely spicy, you can confidently leave the infusion overnight and see what it tastes like the next day.”
According to Cusick, Ancho Reyes liqueurs are great modifiers, but can sometimes lack dimension. “Ancho Reyes is more of a flavor enhancer and is kind of syrupy, so using that alone might not give you the results you're looking for—in the context of spicy cocktails, it’s a great ingredient but is best when used in combination with other elements of spice to create a more well-rounded drink.”
With your newfound spice skills, there’s a whole world of possibility that lies ahead. Choose your own adventure, starting with this Spicy Negroni recipe by Cusick herself.
Click Play to See This Spicy Negroni Come Together
- 1 ounce mezcal
- 3/4 ounce Campari
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/4 ounce Ancho chile liqueur
- 2 drops Bittermens Hellfire Habañero Shrub Bitters
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice.
Stir, and strain into an Old Fashioned or rocks glass over fresh ice.