Midsummer’s Heat is a Spicy Blackberry Bourbon Smash made with fresh fruit, tart lime juice, and the award-winning Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup! Check out this new recipe and learn how you can support Nickel Dime’s mission to bring craft syrups to the home bar with a new line of ingenious flavors.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. In full transparency, I was gifted the bottle of Caged Heat used in this review by Nickel Dime Cocktail Syrups. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
If you’ve been following along for a while, you know how much I love craft cocktails. I firmly believe every single person has the skill to elevate a casual get together into an affair to remember, and a lovely, well-composed signature drink can do just that. The folks over at Nickel Dime Cocktail Syrups feel the same way, and they’ve made it their mission to bring the craft bar experience home.
After a successful crowd-funding campaign a few years ago, business partners Jared Hirsch and J. Absinthia Vermut released their first syrup – Caged Heat (with key ingredients of tamarind, cardamom, and ghost pepper) – to rave reviews. Now they’re looking to expand their line with three all new incredible flavor combos that have intriguing names and even more eclectic ingredients – Crimson Smoke, Fairy Dust, and Cherry Bomb. The thing is, they need our help to do it.
In order to make their boozy dreams a realty, Nickel Dime is looking to raise (at least) $30k through a brand new Kickstarter Campaign by next Thursday, April 26th. Hoping to do my part, I taste-tested Caged Heat and even made a new cocktail recipe in celebration: Midsummer’s Heat – A Spicy Blackberry Bourbon Smash. Read on to learn more!
The Origins of Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup
A handful of years ago, Jared and Absinthia came together to create Nickel Dime Cocktail Syrups with a flagship product featuring cardamom, tamarind, and ghost pepper, which they called Caged Heat. Originally created by Jared in the kitchen of the bar he calls home – Sidebar in Oakland, California – the spicy concoction grew in popularity, eventually earning acclaim in the local cocktail scene. As the creator of Absinthia’s Absinthe Blanche, Absinthia was already familiar with the craft cocktail industry, and the pair formed Nickel Dime Cocktail Syrups to market the new product. After successfully funding the artisanal creation with a Kickstarter Campaign in 2015, Caged Heat is currently available throughout the nation through the Amazon Marketplace.
A Whole Line of New Cocktail Syrups
To be completely honest here, as delicious and well-balanced as the Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup is (Tamarind is definitely one of my personal buzz words), it’s these new syrups that have me incredibly excited on a personal level. I selfishly need this Kickstarter to succeed just so I can get my hands on these ingenious flavors. Each is unique in its own right, with the last keying in specifically to one of the founders’ main passions, craft Absinthe making. While final ingredients will be subject to change, the initial ideas are strong:
- Crimson Smoke: Cranberry, Honey, & Lapsang Souchong
- Cherry Bomb: Cherry, Cacao, & Coffee
- Fairy Dust: Fennel, Anise, & Wormwood
Caged Heat – A Taste Test & Review
Before I could sing the praises of the new line of cocktail syrups however, I had to give the current product on the market a try. Let me tell you – I was by no means disappointed. I’ve made my own spicy syrups in the past (like in this Jalapeno Pineapple Margarita), so I feel confident saying that Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup does an amazing job of balancing the potentially overpowering heat of the ghost peppers with the sweet flavors of tamarind and cardamom. When used in cocktails, the syrup adds a spiciness that is forefront on the tongue, without lingering so long as to remove any refreshing aspects of a nice cold drink.
As soon as my bottle of Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup arrived, I immediately made myself the signature cocktail recommended by Jared: Caged Heat (A Spicy Whiskey Sour). With bourbon, lemon juice, and a full ounce of Caged Heat, it definitely let the flavors of the simple syrup shine.
Next came Absinthia’s favorite cocktail. After recommending Caged Heat as an alternate dip for French fries, she suggested Desert Heat. This is Nickel Dime’s version of a Spicy Margarita, with 100% agave tequila, smoky mezcal, and fresh lime juice. For my own taste preferences, I dialed back the Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup from a full ounce to half an once in this one, and it was incredibly delicious. Sweet and smoky with a hint of spice, the cocktail syrup elevates a classic margarita without taking away from the lime and tequila flavors. It’s a fun and refreshing drink.
Oh, and did you notice that sea salt and brown sugar rim I added? Seriously divine.
Midsummer’s Heat – A Spicy Blackberry Bourbon Smash Cocktail
Of course, I couldn’t do a full review of Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup without pulling together my own recipe. From my Sweet Cherry Bourbon to my Candied Cranberry Rye, I knew from experience that whiskey smash cocktails with their fresh fruit and boozy sweetness always do well in the summer.
With this in mind, I muddled beautifully plump fresh blackberries with some tart lime juice, shaking the mixture up with a combination of bourbon and Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup. Topped with a bit of club soda and some blackberries to garnish, the vibrantly purple Midsummer’s Heat is a refreshing twist on this easy classic cocktail recipe. It’ll be a perfect drink to share with guests as the days turn longer and the weather gets warmer.
Whether you’re a craft cocktail connoisseur or bartending novice, I urge you to check out Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup for yourself. Then, if you feel so inclined, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Nickel Dime in their ongoing Kickstarter Campaign. Delicious things await.
Midsummer’s Heat – A Spicy Blackberry Bourbon Smash Cocktail
Midsummer’s Heat is a Spicy Blackberry Bourbon Smash Cocktail made with fresh fruit, tart lime juice, and the award-winning Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup. It's a perfectly refreshing summer drink.
- ¼ cup fresh blackberries
- ½ oz lime juice
- 1 oz Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup
- 2 oz bourbon
- Club soda, to taste
- Lime wheel & extra blackberries, to garnish (optional)
Muddle the fresh blackberries and lime juice together in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup, bourbon, and two ice cubes to the shaker, secure the top, and shake vigorously until well-chilled. Remove the lid of the shaker and pour all of the contents into a glass (you want to keep all the fruit!). Top with another ice cube or two and a bit of club soda to taste. Garnish with a pair of blackberries and a lime wheel if you like being fancy.