Sauce it up, baby!

The Asian Age.  | Dibyendu Bindal

Life, More Features

Traditionally used as marinade, hot sauces are now finding a place on the bartender’s shelf.

However, there are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration before things go completely wrong.

Having travelled to various destinations from a young age, I’ve learnt the importance of developing a palate for different tastes. While learning and evolving my tastes for different cuisines has remained an on-going process, there was one such encounter that I experienced with a cocktail that changed my perspective on drinks.

The first time I tried a classic bloody Mary, the presence of the hot sauce in the savoury cocktail took me by surprise. I was ecstatic by the flavours of the drink — which was a hot sauce mixed with alcohol. I didn’t know something like that could be possible, till I actually tried it. Soon it became my my favourite drink. This led to the start of my journey of experimentation with alcohol and hot sauces.

When I began testing with spritis and hot sauces, I learnt that it was crucial for me to pair the right kind of sauce with the right spirit. My initial experiments were with tabasco (one of the most obvious choices after my bloody Mary episode), worcestershire, vinegar and mustard. When paired with easier spirits such as vodka, white rum, bourbon, tequila and whiskey, it definitely led to some great concoctions.

However, what really changed the game for me was a mixture I stumbled upon during this phase, which was peri peri sauce and gin. The result was exactly the feeling I felt when I sipped on my first bloody Mary.

I paired this delicious mixture with mango juice and orange marmalade, which worked perfectly by maintaining its texture and flavour. Another important pairing lesson is to have a good proportion of a sweetener with the hot sauce, which helps in keeping a consistence with no overpowering elements.  

However, there are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration before things go completely wrong. It is of atmost importance to know the different types of spirits and their individual tastes. Second, understand how the sauces will add a flavour to the spirit. Lastly, know the right proportion of each of these elements. Maintain a right balance of each element while keeping it simple and you have a great cocktail!
—The writer is a partner (Food & Beverage) at Agent Jack’s Bar