According to my calculations, there are a few things that are a have to if you live in Tucson:
- You have to root for the Wildcats.
- You have to have a bottle of sunscreen in your house.
- You have to learn to love spicy food.
Tucsonans are obsessed with spice. From the chiltepin to the jalapeño, Tucsonans are capsicum crazy. Yet, these colorful fruits aren’t just reserved for the dinner table.
Check out what we discovered on our search for some of the best spicy beverages in Tucson.
Oaxacan Dream at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails
Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails has a whopping 25% of their cocktail menu featuring spice. From chipotle to serrano, it’s a choose your own adventure in heat. The one that stole our hearts was the Oaxacan Dream. The serrano infused reposado tequila adds just the right heat to this specialty cocktail. Of course, the house-made grenadine isn’t too shabby either. Top it off with a Lucas-rimmed glass and this is an instant favorite.
Spice level: 3 chilies
Michelada at BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs
We’re not trying to start an all-out Michelada war, we just happened to love this one. If you have a favorite somewhere else, leave it in the comments. The Michelada at BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs is a chalice of flavor with diced celery for texture, Tajin rimmed goblet for spice, and a beer of your choice on the side to mix accordingly. Order it with a Sonoran Hot Dog and you’re in Tucson heaven. Also, don’t forget to check out the recent Michelada article in the March/April 2014 edition of Edible Baja Arizona.
Spice Level: 2 chilies
Poquito Picante at Contigo
The Poquito Picante has been on the menu at Contigo since they opened. Muddled cucumber, fresh jalapeño, cilantro, gin and triple sec combine for a refreshing solution to triple digit weather. Since they use fresh jalapeño, the spice level can vary in this crisp beverage. But have no fear, they can dial it down if smoke comes out your ears.
Spice Level: 3 ½ chilies
Chiltepin Beer Infusion at Good Oak
Good Oak Bar throws beer, tea, and chiltepins in a French press and lets the magic take place. The beer-meets-press combinations change based on availability, so some days are chamomile days while others are chai days. No matter the tea, the result is an intensely aromatic brew with a subtle sweet heat finish. Let the infusion steep longer and that sweet heat intensifies. As they say, patience is a virtue. Don’t worry though – Good Oak Bar has a great selection of local beer and wine to keep you occupied in the meantime.
Spice Level: 1-4 chilies
Mangoyada at Sonoran Sno Cones
Sometimes you need to do your liver a favor and pass on the alcohol, but thanks to the raspado world you don’t need to pass on heat. Raspados are Mexican sno-cones. The Mangoyada at Sonoran Sno Cones is layered with chopped mango, chamoy syrup, shaved ice, lime and if you want (yes, you want) tamarind candy. This icy beverage contains it all: sweet, savory, salty, sour, and spicy. A true feast for the eyes and taste buds.
Spice Level: 2 chilies
You can find more information on these establishments by visiting their websites:
Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails: 135 S. 6th Avenue, 520-623-7700
BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs: 2680 N. 1st Avenue, 520-207-2245
Contigo: 1745 E. River Road Suite 165, 520-299-1730
Good Oak Bar: 316 E. Congress
Sonoran Sno Cones: 100 S. Avenida Del Convento Suite #120, 520-344-8470