Simple syrup is a bartender’s best friend; it helps them turn ordinary drinks into something extra special. And a habanero simple syrup? Well, you’re just opening the door to a whole world of spicy cocktails. Just a dash of this spicy concoction into a margarita or mixed drink can take your cocktail to a whole other level. It’s like mixing in the sun, so be careful when using it. Don’t pour too much and definitely let people know about the spiciness of the cocktail prior to serving.
Habanero simple syrup is very easy to make, and you could opt for a milder hot pepper than the habanero if the heat is too much. Or, check out this recipe for a jalapeño version of this mixer. Where habaneros range from 100,000 to 325,000 on the Scoville scale, jalapeños range a more pedestrian 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units. So…choose your poison here. Note for many, the jalapeño (which is a relatively mild-medium heat) is plenty hot. But, if you and your friends are more the extreme eating type, you’ll love what habanero simple syrup brings to the table.
A word on safety: Be sure to use kitchen gloves when handling the habanero peppers. If you do get chili burn (or you want to be better prepared before handling), check out some solutions here.
Three cocktail recipes where habanero simple syrup can be used:
- Spicy Blood Orange Margarita: Simple syrup is called for in this cocktail recipe. You could opt to go with a fiery version and remove the muddled jalapeño.
- Spicy Paloma: This grapefruit take on a margarita uses jalapeño simple syrup, but that could certainly be swapped out for our hab version below.
- Spicy Jalapeño Gimlet: Again, nothing stopping an upgrade here to something extra-hot!
Habanero Simple Syrup
- 2 habanero peppers
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Slice off the habanero stems and cut the habanero straight down the middle. Keep the seeds and membrane intact or remove them for a less intense heat.
- Pour the water into a pan and heat to high.
- When water is hot but not yet boiling, add the sugar into the water and stir to combine until the water turns from murky to clear.
- Add in the habanero halves and bring the sugar water mix to a fast boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. During this time, the sugar water will thicken slightly and it may take on a tinge of color (from the habaneros).
- Remove the sugar-water from the heat, and let it cool for 30 to 45 minutes until it reaches room temperature.
- Remove the habanero pepper pieces, along with any seeds that may have dislodged during the simmering.
- Pour the simple syrup into a sealable container and refrigerate.