Hot sauce is the condiment people love universally. On top of chicken wings, on tacos, on top of margaritas – we can’t get enough. In the past couple of years, hot sauce has gone viral. This in part is due to the popular youtube series, ‘Hot Ones.’ The show features interviews with celebrities by the interviewer, Sean Evans, as they go through a plate of chicken wings with different hot sauces.
New York City has become a hub for new hot sauce brands making a name for themselves. However, if Cholula or Tabasco don’t do it for you, you have the options of hundreds of different local brands to support.
Red Hot History
Hot Sauce mania isn’t new to New Yorkers. The Annual Hot Sauce Expo held in NYC yearly is coming up on its eighth year this year. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, it has been postponed to 2021 because you can’t taste test through zoom. It’s held in the Brooklyn Expo Center with hundreds of vendors offering free tastings to connoisseurs and newbies, alike.
Tickets range from ten dollars to sixty dollars and then you can spend the whole day roaming the hot sauce heavens. Since this is no longer an option in this day and age, we have compiled a bunch of resources and personal recommendations to make your hot sauce journey fun and easy.
Heating Up In Brooklyn
Beyond the cult following of hot sauce in NYC, Brooklyn has taken it to a whole new level. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn on 12 Wythe Avenue sits a small shop called the ‘Heatonist.’ It is a whole store dedicated to hot sauces, and hot sauces only. One of the founders of the Heatonist, Noah Chaimberg, explained that the purpose of opening the shop was to “help people (and local businesses) diversify their hot sauce offerings.”
Beyond their amazing selection of local and world-renowned products, the Heatonist also offers subscription boxes. Dubbed the ‘Hot Ones Subscription,’ the Heatonist boasts a collaboration with Hot Ones where they bring subscribers a curated box of goodies. As per their website, each month they send the subscriber three bottles of hot sauce, a limited edition sticker, and a special info card from Team HEAT.
One of their best sellers, which I have to say is so good you’ll be topping your oatmeal with it, is ‘Los Calientes’ made by Hot Ones in NYC. It kicks a medium level punch of spice combining the flavors of serrano and habanero chilies with red bell peppers and tomatillos.
Additionally, they suggest to top it on whatever you like – pizza, wings, tacos, live your best life and dab it all over!
Hot Tamale? No, Hot Sauce
From super mild to super spicy, we’ve got some suggestions for you to dabble in. Firstly, you must try the Bronx Green Hot Sauce. This sauce is a collaboration between Small Axe Peppers and Grow NYC, made from fresh serrano peppers grown in community gardens all around the city. It is topped off with garlic, salt, sweet relish, sugar, and apple cider vinegar.
It’s a delicious staple to any meal that needs another layer of flavor without burning your tongue. It’s about a 3/10 on a scale where 10 means you need to cut your tongue off.
For those seeking some adventure, we suggest ‘Extreme Karma’ by Karma Sauce. It is an incendiary cocktail of Ghost Pepper and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion; mixed with honey, sweet potato, onion, ginger, garlic, and butternut squash. It’s about a 7/10 but it’s the type of spice that’s bearable and still allows for enjoyment.
Top It Off However You Want
Whether you choose mild or super spicy, experiment with your flavors and go out of your comfort zone. Have fun and try hot sauce on everything! You might stumble onto a holy grail concoction of your own making.