Yes, we're talking about that George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish, which makes a mean Michelada.
When you think of spicy whiskey, the mind leaps to Fireball. And major brands like Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam have released cinnamon whiskey brands of their own. But George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish (we call it “Hot Dickel” for short) is its own thing entirely.
The Tennessee whiskey brand takes a product similar to their Dickel No. 8, aged between five and seven years, and lets it rest for 30 days in a used Tabasco barrel — and then adds a distillate made from Tabasco itself. The final product is sweetened a bit, and brought down to 70 proof (35 percent ABV). You might expect it to be super-spicy, but the heat is quite mild; it’s the fruity notes of the pepper and the barrel-aged character that come through.
While Hot Dickel is intended as a shot, we like it even better in cocktails. Here are three original drinks to try.
Easy: Hot Dickel Michelada
When we think about hot sauce in a cocktail, we immediately think of the Michelada. Beer, lime, and a little something spicy work perfectly together — so Hot Dickel is a no-brainer. A medium-hoppy IPA (here, I used Lagunitas) is a good match for the zing of the Tabasco whiskey, and lime juice perks the whole thing up. Spiced salt adds a little more heat, and if you want, feel free to dash actual Tabasco sauce in here (two dashes gets you a nice tingle, four is some legit heat).
For the spiced salt: Mix one tablespoon of coarse salt with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon celery salt.
Instructions: In a pint glass with ice, rimmed with salt if you like, combine 12 ounces IPA, 2 ounces Hot Dickel, and 1 ounce fresh lime juice. (Add more Tabasco if you like.) Stir briefly to combine. Squeeze in a lime wedge.
Intermediate: Hot Dickel Manhattan
Since this whiskey is already sweetened, it doesn’t work well in a classic Manhattan — the addition of sweet vermouth is just too much. But stir it with dry vermouth — now we’re talking. And since it’s such a simple drink, have fun with the garnish: Light it all on fire.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine two ounces of Hot Dickel, one ounce of dry vermouth, and a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a flamed orange twist and a torched cinnamon stick.
To flame an orange twist: Cut a 1” round of orange peel. Hold the orange peel, colored skin side facing down, over the surface of the cocktail, and hold a lit match just under it. Squeeze the peel, spritzing citrus oils toward the cocktail and through the flame; do it right, and those oils will ignite.
To torch a cinnamon stick: Just light the end on fire and let it burn for a minute.
Advanced: Celery-Dickel Cooler
We’ve never muddled celery in a cocktail. Until now. The celery ends up so cooling and refreshing, it’s a great counter for Hot Dickel. Lemon, a little simple syrup, and club soda lighten it all up. This would make a superior brunch drink, vegetal and a little spicy like a Bloody Mary, but way more novel.
Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, firmly muddle 1 celery stalk, cut up into pieces. Add an ounce and a half of Hot Dickel, 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup, along with ice. Shake very well and double-strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Top with an ounce of club soda and stir briefly. Garnish with two thin celery stalks and a lemon wheel.