Photo by Deb Lindsey

Editors' Pick

Best Fiery Cocktails

Casa Oaxaca

At Casa Oaxaca in Bethesda, bar manager Irene Barrientos serves up a spicy margarita. She shakes up fresh pineapple puree, sliced serrano peppers, fresh lime juice, agave and house tequila, and serves it straight up or on the rocks in a glass rimmed with chili flakes and salt. A pineapple wedge and pineapple leaf are the finishing touches.

4905 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, 240-858-6181,

El Sapo Cuban Social Club

At El Sapo Cuban Social Club in Silver Spring, chef and owner Raynold Mendizábal channels the spice, heat and passion of his native Cuba in a cocktail creation he calls “Hot Pasión.” “We cook jalapenos and ginger in guarapo—cane sugar juice—until it almost caramelizes,” he says. “It has to be guarapo, not granulated sugar. It makes all the difference in terms of richer flavor.” After it’s strained, the syrup is combined with fresh passion-fruit puree and Carta Blanca rum, and served over ice with fresh mint and some of the cooked jalapenos.

 8455 Fenton St., Silver Spring, 301-326-1063,

The Dish & Dram

Restaurateur Zena Polin explains the provenance of a peppery cocktail at The Dish & Dram in Kensington: “One of our favorite regulars is named Amanda. She wanted a spicy cocktail, and I found one in my research called ‘the Amanda,’ made with grapefruit juice, vodka and St-Germain liqueur.” Polin swapped out the St-Germain for jalapenos, which are sliced and mashed in the bottom of the glass, without seeds. The drink is served over ice and topped with club soda and lime juice. “If people want it crazy spicy, we leave in the seeds,” Polin says.

10301 Kensington Parkway, Kensington, 301-962-4046,