Although you can find Cholula Hot Sauce in most large-chain grocery stores, you may be familiar with it from seeing it on the table of one of the many restaurant chains the sauce brand partners with, including IHOP, Boston Market, Qdoba Mexican Grill, On the Border, and California Pizza kitchen. You’ll also see it in many other chains and privately owned restaurants. Potbelly Sandwiches has Cholula Hot sauce as an option, and Papa Johns Pizza sent out packages of the sauce for a while in 2007. This is not to mention all the various other sponsorships and advertising ventures the brand has entered into, such as car racing events, football, and even snowboarding. So, even if you haven’t tried it, you might recognize the wooden capped bottle with the Mexican lady on the front. But don’t let all the promotion fool you, it’s really good stuff, with a tangy hot flavor and is very versatile. There’s not many things you can’t put it on! GREAT on scrambled eggs.
The original Cholula hot sauce is made with pequin and árbol (Chile de árbol) chiles. Both these peppers are very hot. To put the heat in perspective, the mildest pequin is about 6 times hotter than the hottest jalapeno. Cholula hot sauce itself, however, is a mild sauce, generally 1000 Scoville heat units, which is what the company itself indicates, but values up to 3000 have been reported.
In general, this means that Cholula hot sauce is about half as hot as Tabasco sauce, or a little less that that. Cholula is about pleasant heat and good taste. Don’t get me wrong, I love scorching hot stuff, but if a hot sauce is too hot, and the heat is right up front, your taste buds won’t register the flavor.
According to the company and other sources, Cholula hot sauce has been in existence for at least three generations. I have no idea how long, generally, these sources suppose a “generation” to be, but I’d guess that the sauce is at least 60 to 75 years old. It has only been commercially available in the U.S. for the last 20 years. The sauce was first made by a Mexican family in the area of Jalisco, and they made the sauce mainly for use in sangrita, which is a spicy nonalcoholic drink that would be served as a chaser to tequila shots (Jalisco is famous for tequila). Don’t confuse sangrita with sangria, the fruity Spanish drink, by the way.
Cholula was named after after the oldest inhabited city in Mexico, a place that is famous for having a boat-load of churches: 365 of them. The word cholula is from a Nahuatl word (language spoken before the Spaniards) and means “place of retreat.”
n the 1980’s Jose Cuervo, the tequila makers, heard about the sauce and thought it was pretty boss, so they licensed the brand and introduced it to the U.S. in 1989. They spared no effort to get it on the tables of restaurants and everywhere else they could. Now, if you’re into tequila, and you also happen to be into Cholula, here is a recipe for Mexican Sangrita. There are versions made with tomato juice, but that is like the Bloody Mary’s hipper cousin, or at least Virgin Mary’s. This version is more traditional to Jalisco, which is made with orange juice and grenadine. It can be made with fresh chiles, like anchos, but here is spiced up with Cholula. Sangrita means “little blood” in Spanish, and it refers to the the color of the drink, which is sort of orange red color.
Traditional Sangrita with Cholula Recipe
2 tbs Cholula hot sauce (more if you like)
2 cups orange juice
2 tbs grenadine syrup
1 tbs finely chopped onion
juice of 1 to 2 limes
1/2 tsp salt
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until pefectly smooth. Then drain the liquid through a layer of clean cheesecloth place in a fine-mesh sieve, to get rid of any bits of onion. Pour into a serving vessle or a bottle to store. You can keep it in the refrigerator for about two days. Serve with rounds of tequila. Take a sip of tequila and “chase” it with a sip of Sangrita. Rinse and repeat.
You can add tomato juice, about one cup, to this basic recipe if you’d like to try it that way. As well, you can add fresh chiles if you’d like more heat. If you need it more limey add more lime. I don’t like the taste of raw onions in a drink like this, and I wouldn’t blame you if you left the onions out, but they are traditionally a part of the drink.
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