If you love spicy drinks, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur is about to become your new favorite cocktail ingredient! From mezcal to whiskey to gin and beyond, Ancho Reyes pairs well with so many spirits and these cocktails are all packed with delicious smoky, spicy flavors!
What Is Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur?
Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur is a hand-crafted liqueur made in Puebla, Mexico that launched in 2012. It comes in two varieties: Ancho Reyes Original (red) and Ancho Reyes Verde (green).
The original is made with late harvest poblano peppers, which are laid out to dry for several weeks until they become smoky, sun-dried ancho chilies. For the Verde, they use early harvested poblano peppers, which are green instead of red. They also fire roast a portion of the peppers to give the liqueur a bright, fresh flavor.
In both cases, the chilies are then macerated in a neutral cane spirit for six months before being hand-blended and bottled.
The recipe is based on a 1927 liqueur recipe from Puebla, and they still use techniques from the 1920s to make Ancho Reyes like growing, picking, slicing, and blending the chilies all by hand. It’s a time consuming process, and it results in a truly artisanal and complex liqueur!
Both liqueurs are spicy and delicious, but today we’re going to focus on cocktails made with the original Ancho Reyes.
What Does Ancho Reyes Taste Like?
The original Ancho Reyes liqueur pours a copper color, and immediately hits you with aromas of smoky dried ancho chilies, cinnamon, and dark chocolate. On the palate, you’ll taste warm, sweet baking spices and smoky, spicy chilies. Since it’s 40% ABV, there’s also a nice boozy kick to it.
While it does have a good amount of heat, it also has a light sweetness and silky texture that balance out the spiciness of the chilies perfectly. I would say it’s no spicier than Sriracha, so you don’t have to worry about burning off your taste buds!
It’s far more complex flavor-wise than most chile liqueurs you’ll find on the market, which is what makes it such a fun cocktail ingredient.
What To Mix With Ancho Reyes
Ancho Reyes is wonderful in margaritas and palomas, but it can add great nuance and flavor to so many of your favorite cocktails! Below are some spirits and flavors that work great with Ancho Reyes.
This is just to name a few, and Ancho Reyes is usually best in a recipe with multiple ingredients/flavors!
Where To Find Ancho Reyes
Ancho Reyes is distributed by the Campari group, so you should be able to find it at your local liquor store or Total Wine. It’s about $37 for a 750ml bottle, so it’s on the pricier side, but it’s by far the best chile liqueur on the market so it’s definitely worth it for the quality!
Substitutes For Ancho Reyes
It’s tricky to find a good substitute for Ancho Reyes with the same spicy, smoky ancho chile flavor and subtle sweetness.
The closest alternative that’s widely available is likely Giffard Piment D’Espelette, which is a chile liqueur from France with a similar spicy and sweet flavor profile. That said, it’s by no means an ideal substitute since it uses a different type of pepper (Espelette) and contains Rhum Agricole.
Now with all of that covered, let’s spice up your week with some Ancho Reyes cocktail recipes!
This cocktail is fruity, sweet, smoky, and spicy all at once! Ingredients are mezcal, Ancho Reyes, passion fruit puree, and fresh lemon juice. Add a smoked salt rim for a cocktail that's packed with flavor and everyone will love!
Here's a variation on the Bee's Knees cocktail, which is a simple cocktail made with lemon, gin, and honey. This clever recipe adds in Ancho Reyes to balance out the sweet honey and bring in flavors of warm spices and chile peppers.
Who doesn't love a good riff on a Negroni!? Negronis are typically made with equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari. This recipe subs out the gin for mezcal and adds in Ancho Reyes for a spicy, smoky take on the classic cocktail.
Ancho Reyes is such a fun ingredient to use in margaritas, and I love the flavors in this recipe! It uses Ancho Reyes, pineapple juice, tequila, lime juice, triple sec, and agave nectar. The pineapple and triple sec add great fruitiness and acidity that perfectly balance the spicy chile liqueur.
Here's another delicious and unique margarita recipe to try! Instead of tequila, this recipe uses mezcal along with Ancho Reyes, pomegranate juice, and a bitter Italian liqueur called Cappelletti that's similar to Campari. So it's perfectly balanced between smoky, spicy, and bittersweet!
This cocktail has SO much flavor, but only requires three ingredients! It involves blending and straining a peeled cucumber, then mixing the fresh juice with Ancho Reyes and lime juice. The spicy Ancho Reyes and refreshing, crisp cucumber are truly a match made in flavor heaven!
A frozen margarita for the holidays!? Count me IN! This creative recipe blends the festive flavors of orange liqueur and cranberry sauce with mezcal and Ancho Reyes for a super unique and tasty holiday drink. It also looks absolutely gorgeous in a glass and is such a fun departure from your typical holiday cocktails!
Here's another festive recipe that can help you mix up your cocktail game during the fall or holiday season! It uses Jameson Irish whisky, Ancho Reyes, apple cider, and lemon bitters. Perfect if you need an easy big batch cocktail to please and impress a crowd.
This recipe instantly transports me to the beach and sounds so delish. To make it, you need Jamaican rum, Ancho Reyes, pineapple juice, lime juice, and hibiscus syrup. Garnish with mint and a pineapple wedge for a sweet and spicy tiki drink!
If you've ever had a chile pepper chocolate bar, you know how good this cocktail is going to be. The only three ingredients are Ancho Reyes, hot cocoa, and cinnamon. Guaranteed to warm you up from your taste buds to your toes!
I've never met anyone who doesn't like a Moscow Mule (don't you dare be the first!), and this variation on the classic cocktail is super simple and tasty. You just need tequila, Ancho Reyes, ginger beer, and a squeeze of lime.
I love mezcal sours, especially when they have a nice spicy kick to them! Aside from mezcal and Ancho Reyes, you just need grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white to make this recipe. The egg white adds a nice creaminess that balances out the spicy flavors of the cocktail like a dream!
Typically, an Old Fashioned is made with sugar, bitters, and whiskey. This recipe subs out whiskey for tequila, sugar for simple syrup, and adds in Ancho Reyes to give it some heat. It also uses Angostura bitters and orange bitters for extra aromatics.
Who’s feeling the heat!? I’m psyched to make the spicy frozen margarita this weekend because I’m feeling festive, but these all look beyond tasty.
Do you have a favorite Ancho Reyes cocktail that I didn’t include here? If so, let me know in the comment section below so I can try it out!