Tastes Like Burning: Habanero-Infused Vodka & Tequila

I have a secret to share. When I was young I really did not like spicy-hot type foods. I believed, and sometimes continue to, that the whole obsession with making things hotter and hotter was just masculine posturing. “Why yes I am a real man, throw a dozen more satan testicle peppers in there.”

Then there’s that awful snob talk about capsaicin levels and endorphins. Has anyone questioned the wisdom of causing yourself pain and misery to feel good? Can’t you just eat candy or have a cocktail?

Somehow, I grew up to appreciate a bit of heat. If I’m having full on nachos, I prefer hot salsa (if just chips and salsa, I still opt for medium). I generally ask for “medium spicy” at restaurants when given the choice, and am usually disappointed if it’s not a bit hot. Yet, the habanero still terrified me a bit up until this past summer. I found a small bag at a vegetable market and was amazed at how pretty they were–so many colors, so many crevices. It reminded me a little of how poison dart frogs are really pretty but if you eat one you will die or become a superhero maybe. I’m sure this is the same thing. That day I got 9 peppers. The results were so interesting (in a good way) that a few weeks later I bought a bunch more to get it right.


  • 3 cups vodka or tequila
  • 3–5 habanero peppers, depending on how hot you want it


  • Slice each pepper in half
  • Add all ingredients to a jar and shake well.
  • Store in a cool dark place for 7 days, shaking at least every 2 days. Feel free to infuse longer for added intensity.
  • Pour through a metal strainer and store in a cool, dark place. Will keep at least a year.

Note: There is so much crazy talk on the internets about how to infuse with peppers. One, who even admitted he had no idea what he was doing, noted that most of the heat of peppers is found in the seeds, so he did not use that part. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Why not infuse vodka with your shoe? Also, all hot peppers include oils that are corrosive and getting too much of it on your skin is bad. Getting it on your fingers and then putting in your contacts is incredibly stupid, as I’ve discovered (twice). It never really washes off, but will be worn away after about 24 hours.

I’m amazed at how versatile the results are of both these infusions. It’s to the point where I make sure to make at least 1-liter batches and I’ll make sure to always have some on hand.

The Pinnacle of Humanity: The Buffalo Wing Martini

  • 3 oz habanero infused vodka
  • 1/2 oz vermouth
  • 1/4–1/2 oz olive brine
  • 3 giant green olives, pitted
  • Bleu cheese (a very white variety works best, as a bonus it’s usually cheaper)

Shake first three ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. If olives are stuffed, clean them out. Chop up bleu cheese into chunks that completely fill the olive. Pierce all three olives with a long cocktail pick and add to the drink (will taste best eaten after each third of the cocktail is enjoyed).

Fiery Lime Ade

  • 2 oz habanero infused tequila
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • soda water

Pour first 3 ingredients over ice in a large glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a lime wedge.

Hot & Sour

  • 2 oz habanero infused vodka or tequila
  • 2 oz sour mix
  • Soda water (optional)

Pour all ingredients into a rocks glass filled with ice. Add a splash of soda if desired.

Also use to make a:

  • Bloody mary or bloody maria
  • With coke
  • Margarita
  • With soda water/tonic & lime

State of the blog: This is the second post in a row without photos, and for that I am sorry. I have a “Day of nothing but boozephotos” planned and will not have this tragedy repeated.

This blog is popping up high on the list for various google searches. It seems to be earning a number of random hits beyond my weak promoting so far. The main goal of this project is to keep my writing and photography and infusing brain cells well exercised. However, it’d also be pretty great to get this out there a bit more

I wanted to start a bigger promotion, but as you may have noticed I did not update these past two weeks. A few other projects popped up and I let things slide. In the future I plan on setting aside 6-8 hours per week solely for this, which will hopefully translate into a couple posts per week, minimum. Comments, questions, requests, etc., still encouraged. Also, this weekend is thanksgiving, which will involve lots of train riding and avoiding family, so I will draft a few posts hopefully.

I’ll be getting a paid account soon and I need to figure out how to make the font smaller (I assume most of my readers are not 80 and blind). If there’s a way to edit the font size without doing so, please let me know (still catching on).


About Dazed & Infused

Failed science major turned to creative writing which led to a job as a bartender hack turned mixologist turned book editor turned writer who then went on to the world of International Corporate Communications. This is a bit getting back to his roots--that would be booze & science & rambling.
This entry was posted in Aromatic, Tequila, Vodka. Bookmark the permalink.

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