I’m at the airport again. I think I am now officially on a first name basis with many airport security people around the country. They have my x-ray on hand to refer to, which expedites things nicely.

While I’m sitting here though, I thought I’d tell you about my favorite hot sauce recipe of late. It’s true I have a bit of a hot sauce obsession and have spent a time or two pushing the outer limits of my taste buds. But what is life for if not to push the outer limits of your taste buds? Okay, don’t answer that.

I’ve spent time trying Tennessee Hot Chicken, and Rhoda’s Hot Tamales in Arkansas, and that special Texas BBQ/hot sauce that is undeniably… Texan. But I have a confession to make. I have ended my longtime affair with sriracha. I have a new favorite, and it’s name is Whiskey Hot Sauce.

I conjured it up one evening, and it includes some exotic ingredients like…a good whiskey and my dad’s honey from his Italian bees. (You can find a formal version of this recipe in my book Food Heroes!)

This is the cast of characters: Brown sugar, Serrano peppers (or Habanero if you’re feeling rebellious), lemon, Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, cider vinegar, carrots, onions, honey, cumin.

Mince the Chipotle peppers and slice the lemon in half.

Combine it with the diced carrot, diced onion, diced peppers.

Measure your whiskey.

Put it all in a small sauce pan with a bit of water.

Simmer and add the brown sugar.

Add the lemon juice. Give it a nice squeeze.

Once all of the ingredients are tender, particularly the carrots, onions, and Serrano peppers, pour it carefully into a blender.

Cover it well and blend it for a few seconds until smooth.

And there you have it… a tangy, spicy, whole new hot sauce. This hot sauce is “hot,” but can be adjusted to suit your taste buds. For a medium or mild version substitute jalapenos or bell peppers for part of the Serranos and chipotles, or for an even hotter version use habanero peppers in place of serranos.

Give it a try sometime!

“Whiskey Hot Sauce”

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Servings: 3 cups


  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • ¼ cup Serrano peppers seeds removed and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce roughly chopped
  • ½ cup onion finely diced
  • ½ cup carrot peeled and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup brown sugar or molasses
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  • In a saucepan, heat the vinegar with 1 cup of water and add the diced peppers, Chipotle peppers, onion, and carrot. Let them simmer over low heat, covered, for 15-20 minutes to soften.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan, stir and return to a simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  • Puree in a blender or food processor, transfer to a glass jar and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to one year.