The Heart of Ardent

The Heart of Ardent: Halloween Hooch:
Make a Demon Blood Margarita

Since I tormented you with an inky black licorice cocktail last week, to continue our Hallowe’en countdown, today’s drink is blood red*. Let’s pause for a brief maniacal laugh; Mwah-ha-haaaaa…!

These drinks will look great on your Hallowe’en bar and with your costume.

*NOTE: The food coloring does not add any flavor so can be left out to make a regular looking, non-blood colored cocktail. I’ve used Wilton Gels in cake decorating and the gel colors have great density and saturation, but no real taste.

Demon Blood Margarita / Hot Blooded Margarita


2 oz Reposado or Gold Tequila
approximately 1 oz Controy or Citrónge orange liqueur
approximately 1 oz fresh lime juice
1-2 dashes Hell-Fire Bitters** / OR 3-4 dashes OR to taste, Cholula Hot Sauce with Chile and Lime (for the Hot Blooded Margarita)
1 Dab of Wilton’s Black Gel Food Coloring
2 Dabs of Wilton’s Red Red Gel Food Coloring
Sea salt and Cayenne Pepper


Rim the martini glass with the salt and cayenne mixture, then apply food coloring thinly to the interior of your cocktail shaker.
Mix all the ingredients in the shaker, swishing around until the colors are dissolved and blended.

Once fully dissolved, then you can add the ice and shake until well chilled. (The colors just don’t dissolve and mix as well when cold or with ice.)

Strain the drink into the rimmed glass, and garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.

NOTE: **Hell Fire Bitters.  These bitters are based on an original recipe by Charles Baker Jr., and are typically homemade. They are usually hot as hell, so I think the Hot Blooded Margarita is made less demonically hot by using the Cholula.
Hell Fire Bitters tastes of lime, hot chiles and the cinchona is the bitterness. If you’re not a bartender with your own passionately homemade jar sitting on your shelf, I think a hot sauce makes a nice alternative. I particularly like Cholula Hot Sauce with Chile and Lime (made in Mexico) which can be found in many large supermarkets and Latin markets.

In the right combination this drink has a real balance. It’s Margarita lime plus a slap of heat from the chiles, a wonderful flavor combination often found in Mexico.

Have fun and Happy Hallowe’en!


1 chipotle chili
1 arbol chili
1 red Thai chili
2 dried ancho chilies
1 750-ml bottle of 100-proof vodka
3/4 cup cracked or crushed espresso beans OR 2 TBSP molasses

I consider ½ tsp Cinchona Bark Powder OR Quinine bark powder OR Gentian, a different bittering agent, to be optional

Toast the chipotle, arbol , and red Thai chilis. Cut them open and remove seeds. Cut open ancho chilies and remove MOST of the seeds, then add all of the chilies to a big jar, and top with a 750-ml bottle of 100-proof vodka. Add the 3/4 cup of espresso OR the molasses, and let it stand for at least 48 hours.
Test taste it to make sure the flavors are strong or in-yer-face, then strain out the chilies and the espresso beans so that you are left only with the liquid.

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