Tabasco is a brand of hot pepper sauce invented in the mid-1860's by Edmund McIlhenny, a banker and amateur gardener who was given seeds of the chile pepper Capsicum frutescens, which had come from either Mexico or Central America. He began to plant the seeds on Avery Island, Louisiana, and in 1868 gave up the banking business to grow the peppers commercially. His first bottling was 658 bottles that were sold at wholesale for $1 each (nearly $16 today). He gave it the name Tabasco, which either means “place where the soil is humid” or “place of the coral or oyster shell.”
McIlhenny's recipe in 1868 and the recipe for Tabasco today are strikingly similar. Back then, the peppers were picked, mashed and stored in crocks for 30 days. French white wine vinegar was added and the resulting mixture was aged for another 30 days before being filtered and bottled. Today, the pepper mash is blended with a bit of Avery Island salt is aged for three years in salt-topped white oak barrels before being blended with distilled vinegar, filtered and bottled. The company is now in the sixth generation of family ownership.
Tabasco comes in half a dozen flavors, including jalapeno, chipotle and habañero. They also license out the Tabasco name for various goods, from snack mix to neckties.
Tabasco sauce is sharply vinegar-tasting, with a fairly straightforward heat. It typically ranges between 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville units.
Some popular cocktails containing Tabasco
- Bloody Mary — Vodka, Tomato juice, Lemon juice, Horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Hot sauce, Black pepper, Celery salt, Lemon, Celery stalk
- Piquant Paloma — Tequila, Elderflower liqueur, Grapefruit bitters, Grapefruit soda, Grapefruit juice, Lime juice, Simple syrup, Chipotle pepper sauce, Peach
- Spicy Bacon Martini — Vodka, Dry vermouth, Bacon syrup, Hot sauce
- Lagniappe — Rye, Lemon juice, Blackberry syrup, Hot sauce
- Tessmanian Devil — Gin, Strega, Aromatized wine, Bitters, Lemon juice, Hot sauce, Cayenne pepper, Chili pepper
- Agony & Ecstasy — Gin, Elderflower liqueur, Ginger beer, Grapefruit juice, Chipotle pepper sauce, Grapefruit peel
- Hers, but mine — Mezcal, Crème de Cacao, Licor 43, Bitters, Herbal liqueur, Lime juice, Hot sauce, Salt
- The Bone — Rye, Hot sauce, Lime juice, Simple syrup
- The 'Cue — Overproof rum, Absinthe, Pineapple syrup, Lime juice, Yuzu juice, Hot sauce, Lime
- Wild Ting — Bourbon, Grapefruit juice, Grapefruit soda, Hot sauce, Lemon peel, Mint