We originally bought some Caged Heat to be part of the signature cocktail of our wedding, one of which I didn’t have, because it was my wedding, so I was too busy drinking, getting high, and flirting with people whilst I had the best hair and makeup of my life to do the math of an elegant, cultured cocktail.
If I’d had a rubber hose on hand, my bridesmaids would’ve learned how to give a champagne enema that night. If your makeup had taken three hours like mine, you’d be right there on the floor with me, shitting bubbles into matching lingerie.
Instead, I popped the bottle to make hot toddies on New Year’s Eve. If you waver with your confidence in handling ghost pepper, this might be the safest way to try it, because the process of making hot toddies triggers the synapses involved in soup production, and a few “in-progress” sips will give you an idea of how concentrated a drink you can handle. Ghost pepper doesn’t just bite you like jalapeno does; it lurks, it lingers, it forms a fist of smoking embers in the back of your throat that unfurls and sets the rest of your body ablaze from your eyelids to your gut flora. Don’t be a hero. Water it down and live to shit your entrails another day. I’m a professional.
Caged Heat is like biting into a chewy tamarind candy that’s been rolled in the dirt of the most treacherous pepper farm on earth. The earthy spice of cardamom and acrid, festering heat of ghost pepper give chase to that initial sweetness. It’s like getting a lukewarm coke after walking through tear gas on a summer night.
Needless to say: I love it. Some Caged Heat with whiskey, water, and honey, reduced over the stove, will make the best hot toddy you’ve ever had. To say this doesn’t diminish the transformative tenderness of those nights snowed in, huddled at the kitchen table, clinging to mugs like they were batteries, staring out unto the ice, unsure if a lover powerful enough to endure Canadian winters was a blessing or a curse. No one can take that away from you, even if you wanted them to.
I’ve never, in over a decade of drinking, ever sipped whiskey, even good whiskey, and been able to say with any certainty that it was “smooth”. Caged heat and honey have helped me appreciate the smoothness (however artificial) of our well bourbon. It takes the puckering sting out of bargain shelf booze—by replacing it with swallowing a phantom sword of pungent flame.
One benefit of the ever-present smoldering in the back of your throat when you drink Caged Heat is that it reminds you to eventually drink actual water, not just a cocktail with a little more ice.
Great for having a quiet, meditative holiday to yourself, inoculating yourself to the barbs of a new year by trying to burn the nerves out entirely.
Author: Jetta Rae
Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae