Cocktail Overhaul: Prairie Fire

JL Studios

Shots! Shots! Shots! These are often the words that get the party started...and lead to countless bad decisions and lost memories. The trouble is that not all shots are created equal. Some go down as easy as pie while others burn and burn. The Prairie Fire shot is one of those dangerous shots, commonly constructed with cheap tequila enlivened by Tabasco sauce. But despite its fiery reputation, the Prairie Fire can be corralled into a balanced—and delicious—craft cocktail. Here's how.

Though its exact origin story is hazy, the Prairie Fire has murdering taste buds for a long time. Some say the drink originated in the 70s at a bar where patrons were forced to drink hot sauce alongside shots of liquor as punishment for losing bets. Since then a number of different variations have come about, all of them equally deadly.


But fiery drinks can be delicious and even delicate. What if instead of tequila, we opted for pisco, a brandy made from grapes in Peru and Chile? (Both countries claim they're the birthplace of the spirit, but that's a debate for another time.) Pisco is often unaged, with a nice hint of floral flavor from the inclusion of aromatic grapes like muscat.

To further refine the drink, I made a Thai chili and pineapple syrup to use instead of Tabasco. It's sweet and spicy, rounding out the cocktail nicely—especially with a touch of tropical coconut liqueur. Can you shoot it? Sure...but you'll likely want to linger over each sip.

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