Why I won’t be drinking “the world’s hottest chilli vodka”

Supposedly, I know a thing or two about spicy spirits and cocktails.  But even I have my limits.

A press release just landed on my desk, announcing the launch of “the world’s hottest chilli vodka” (this is a UK brand; U.S. folks use “chile” to refer to hot peppers): “100,000 Scovilles – Naga Chilli Vodka, made by infusing vodka with the world’s hottest chilli – the Naga Jolokia. ” In other words, Ghost Pepper-infused vodka.

Fine. Those ghost peppers are mighty hot stuff.  But I’ve had ghost pepper-infused spirits. That’s not the problem. Nor is the following warning on the label/web site (actually, I think this is funny):

By purchasing this bottle, you agree that:

1) I have been warned and fully understand that this product contains extreme heat and should be used and handled responsibly.

2) I use this product entirely at my own risk and I understand the potential danger if used or handled irresponsibly. If I give this product as a gift I will make the recipient aware of the potential danger if used or handled irresponsibly.

3) I accept that the retailer and manufacturer of this product will, under no circumstances, be responsible for, or liable for, any claims of injury or damage arising from the use or misuse of this product and by purchasing this product, whether for myself or as a gift, I acknowledge and agree to this fact without question.

4) I am not inebriated or of unsound mind and am fully able to make a rational decision to purchase this product.

No, what bothers me is THIS:  drinkers are urged not to drink it neat, and “definitely do not have it as a shot.”

Simply put: If you can’t drink it straight, you shouldn’t buy it.

What? You’re going to buy it anyway? Masochist. Might as well buy a copy of my book while you’re at it to get some cocktail suggestions, since you’re so severely discouraged from drinking that vodka straight up.

Just in time for Halloween, the Ghost Pepper Cocktail

At the recent Chile Pepper Fiesta (great write-up & photos here), I was shaking up drinks a few booths over from the Bhut Jolokia folks, who make products using the Bhut Jolokia chile pepper, also fondly known as the Ghost Pepper.

If you’re not already familiar with these bad boys, Bhut Jolokia peppers are waaaayyy up there on the Scoville scale — hotter than Habaneros, hotter than Scotch Bonnets, and allegedly, the hottest known pepper of all. The peppers are widely sold at Kalustyan’s and elsewhere, but the Ghost Pepper guys in Brooklyn were smart enough to package and sell them — and best of all, they make a Spicy Ghost Pepper Watermelon Candy. Oh yes. And it’s inspired me to create a boozy version:  The Ghost Pepper Cocktail.

Here’s the recipe. It may seem a little sweet – but trust me, you need a little extra sugar to help mellow the Bhut Jolokia burn. I dare you to serve this at your Halloween party this year!

Ghost Pepper Cocktail

1/3 cups watermelon puree ( fresh watermelon chunks, seeded and pureed)

3/4 ounce Ghost Pepper simple syrup* (recipe below)

1 1/2 ounce vanilla vodka

Juice of 1 lime

Lemon-lime soda

Pour the watermelon puree, simple syrup, vanilla vodka, and lime juice into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, and strain into a tall glass. Top up with lemon-lime soda. Serve with a straw (or two).

Ghost-Pepper Simple Syrup (enough for several drinks)

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 dried jolokia chile pepper (aka Ghost Pepper)

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil, continuously stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the water starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the dried pepper to the simmering liquid.

Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Remove the dried pepper. Pour the syrup into a container and keep in the refrigerator.