5 spicy cocktails you can find in Vancouver (that aren’t Caesars)

Sep 6 2016, 10:31 pm

By Henry Allan

Modern bartenders take a lot of cues from the kitchen, throwing anything from cilantro to vinegar in today’s drinks. But for some reason, spice — the kind that makes you sweat — has yet to make much of an impact behind the bar.

Sure, there’s the Caesar, the Bloody Mary, and a hundred variations of those drinks. But if you’ve been looking for a spicy cocktail up until now, you’ve pretty much been stuck drinking tomato and hot sauce.

Fortunately for the weary heat-seekers out there, a few local bartenders have broken the mould. Experimenting with chili-infused spirits, syrups and juices, they’ve produced a small number of cocktails that might burn just like a Caesar, but couldn’t taste further from it.

Here are five fiery drinks (that aren’t Caesars) you can find in Vancouver:

Banga #4 – The Union 

Legendary local bartender Nick Devine combines a truly unusual mix of flavours in his Banga #4. First, he fills a mason jar with cardamom-infused cachaça (Brazil’s answer to rum), chunks of fresh pineapple, cilantro and lime, before finally topping it up with crushed ice and chili-water. This drink boasts a wave of tingling heat in the middle of each sip, followed by a sweet cilantro-aftertaste.

Bonus: for more spice, ask your bartender to add a vial of chili tincture.

Address: 219 Union Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-568-3230
Twitter: @TheUnionVan

Smoke and Fire – West

Smoke & Fire at West (Photo by Henry Allan)

Smoke & Fire at West (Photo by Henry Allan)

West Bar Manager, Stacy Ackerman, has created this aptly named cocktail for those who love everything about heat. Combining a spicy jalapeño-rhubarb syrup with peaty scotch, smoky mezcal, Aperol and lime, this drink smells like a campfire and tastes of roasted red fruits still ablaze.

Address: 2881 Granville Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-738-8938
Twitter: @westrestaurant 

Lucia’s Garden – La Mezcaleria (Commercial)

Lucia's Garden at La Mezcaleria (Photo by Henry Allan)

Lucia’s Garden at La Mezcaleria (Photo by Henry Allan)

This minty, citrus cocktail from La Mezcaleria tastes like a spicy mojito, which manages to scorch your whole mouth just moments before cooling it down. The entertaining Lucia’s Garden is made by mixing a searing chipotle-infused mezcal with tequila, Cynar, mint and lime.

Bonus: after the Lucia’s Garden, order a serrano-pineapple margarita (or Chile Compiña) — it’s not on the menu, but they can always make it.

Address: 1622 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Phone: 604-559-8226
Twitter: @LaMezcaleriaYVR

Margarita Patada – Chicha

Margarita Patada at Chicha (Photo by Henry Allan)

Margarita Patada at Chicha (Photo by Henry Allan)

Perhaps the spiciest drink on this list, Chicha’s Peruvian take on the margarita definitely requires a side of water. Using a jalapeño-infused pisco (unaged Peruvian brandy) in lieu of tequila, and a rocoto chili salt rim, this one is purely for those with a high heat-tolerance. Visit Chicha any day between 5-6 to try this, or any of their other seven pisco cocktails for just $7!

Address: 136 East Broadway
Phone: 604-620-3963
Twitter: @ChichaVancouver

Oni No Chi – Miku

Oni No Chi at Miku (Photo courtesy Miku)

Oni No Chi at Miku (Photo courtesy Miku)

Beverage Director Stephen Whiteside has created this berry-flavoured, booze-forward scorcher for all the tequila lovers out there. The Oni No Chi (Japanese for “demons blood”) is a simple mix of serrano-infused tequila with ginger liqueur and cassis, resulting in a fruity-sweet sipper with a bold vegetal heat. This drink is also available at Miku’s sister restaurant, Minami, in Yaletown.

Address: 70-200 Granville Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-568-3900
Twitter: @MikuRestaurant

Henry Allan is a freelance journalist/copywriter based in Vancouver. Formerly a local bartender and bar-school instructor, he now writes about booze on his easy-to-make cocktails blog Craftable Cocktails. Twitter: @craftacocktails.