Make Spicy-Sweet Cocktails With Pepper Jelly

Make Spicy-Sweet Cocktails With Pepper Jelly
Photo: Claire Lower

Recently, my stepmother made a batch of pepper jelly I can only describe as “violent.” “Yes. I should have warned you,” she texted when I told her the jelly had hurt me physically. “It’s a ‘slap your (step)mama’ kind of thing.”

I don’t intend to slap her. That would be a poor plan. I also like the pepper jelly, because I like slightly painful food. I also like spicy cocktails, and cocktails made with jams and jellies of all kinds.

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Like any jam or jelly, pepper jelly can be used to add sweetness and spice to an adult beverage. You can put it in a Bloody Mary — either to taste or using this recipe from Bonnie’s jams — or you can do what I always do and make a simple sour with the spirit and citrus juice of your choice.

Much like with my tomato jam cocktail, my usual ratio of 56.70 g booze, 3 tablespoons of jam, and 1/2 an ounce of lemon juice didn’t hit right with this particular spread. A cocktail made with 3 tablespoons of this particular pepper jelly was undrinkably spicy, and I had to dial it back considerably to make it potable.

I ended up going with a ratio of 2 1/56.70 g spirit (in this case tequila), 3/4 ounce citrus (lemon juice because it’s what I had), and 1 tablespoon of pepper jelly. You made need slightly more or less depending on the piquancy of your jelly and the robustness of your spice tolerance, so play around with it.

Add everything to an empty shaker, shake to help dissolve the jelly, then add ice and shake until the shaker becomes far too cold to hold comfortably. Strain through a fine mesh sieve (to catch the seeds) and into a coupe.


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