Spice Up Your Next Whiskey Sour With Muddled Jalapeño

Whiskey sours are a crowd-pleasing cocktail, and with good reason. Bitter whiskey, sweet sugar, and sour lemon juice come together to make a delightfully balanced flavor. Add in some shaken egg white for a smooth, frothy texture, and you have yourself an incredibly drinkable cocktail. This easy sipping may make the whiskey sour your favorite drink, or it may have you wishing that it could challenge your palate a bit more. If you are in the latter camp, we have a recommendation for you. Give this classic cocktail a heated addition by throwing in some jalapeños.

This flavor combination is all about creating contrast to give your tongue a more sophisticated drinking experience. The spiciness of jalapeño peppers stimulates your senses, while the sugar and acid from the rest of the drink work to neutralize some of the capsaicin in the pepper (that's the compound that makes jalapeños hot). The presence of jalapeño brings not only a spicy flavor to the drink, but also a vegetal note that will brighten the cocktail. This brings the layers of complexity up to five: bitter, sweet, sour, spicy, and earthy.

Make additional adjustments for the perfect drink

To get the best results when creating a jalapeño whiskey sour, it is important to be aware of how selecting and slicing a jalapeño pepper can impact the final flavor. Fresh jalapeños can vary in just how intense their heat is. When shopping for your peppers, pick out smooth, unblemished ones for a milder heat level, or streakier ones for an extra kick of spice. Also pay attention to your pepper cutting technique. The white inner membrane is where most of the capsaicin is stored, so by removing more or less of this pith you can also adjust the intensity. Once you have decided on which peppers you are using and how you are slicing them, simply toss a few pieces into the bottom of your drinking glass and lightly press them with a muddler before building the rest of your drink as usual.

Making such an unexpected alteration to a traditional whiskey sour opens the door to additional changes that may complement the jalapeño flavor in your cocktail. Try swapping your usual whiskey of choice for a grassier version in order to enhance the green taste of the pepper. Another fun option is to replace or accompany the lemon juice with another type of sour juice that is more commonly paired with jalapeños — we recommend lime or grapefruit as a starting point, but options like pineapple and passionfruit juice can have equally enjoyable effects.