If you’ve been following my social media recently, then you know that I made a trip out to Louisiana last month to visit the TABASCO® headquarters on beautiful Avery Island.
I was lucky enough to be invited with eight other food and drinks bloggers to experience the unique production of the legendary pepper sauce, TABASCO®, firsthand, in the place where it was birthed by Edmund McIlhenny over 150 years ago. The recipe of crushed red hot peppers, vinegar and salt hasn’t changed in all of that time (except the higher quality vinegar used and the barrel aging is quite a bit longer). Despite its worldwide notoriety and mass distribution, this devotion to consistency and quality control may be due to the fact that the company is still family owned five generations later. And that family, the McIlhenny’s, invited us into their world…
We really got to see and experience the entire process for how TABASCO® is made from seed…
…to barrel aging.
We even witnessed fifth generation President and CEO, Anthony “Tony” Simmons, testing out the pepper mash as he does every morning at 9am. Talk about hands on! Our sinuses were VERY clear after this visit!
Then we went on the factory line.
We were then given a guided tasting of all of the TABASCO® flavors with Tony Simmons and Charlie Chang, TABASCO’S brilliant in-house food scientist and flavor creator.
To get the full Cajun experience, we were taken into town to New Iberia’s Boiling Point restaurant, and treated to massive amounts of crawfish and indulged in Louisiana delicacies like gator balls and po boys. With extra TABASCO® on the side, of course!
Avery Island, is a magical and historic place – home to TABASCO® as well as nearly half the company’s 200 employees, many of whom are 3rd and 4th generation workers themselves.
Ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss, rare birds, and indigenous plants pepper the island. A gigantic nature preserve takes up much of the island and serves as a sanctuary for birds and alligators alike! We saw both! Guess which one I squealed the most about….
It is also a popular destination for visitors coming to tour the TABASCO® factory and have a stroll and a picnic afterwards.
For our last night on Avery Island, we were treated to an insanely delicious multi-course dinner menu inspired by all things TABASCO® , created by celebrity chef, Aáron Sánchez.
That afternoon, we got a sneak peek at what was to come when Aáron had a cooking demo for us with his gulf snapper ceviche marinated with TABASCO® Green Jalapeño Sauce. Thank goodness we were able to have a full dish to ourselves as a starter later that night!
But, one of the highlights of the trip had to be a cocktail demo with bartender Nick Detrich of New Orleans’ Cane & Table, named one of five best new cocktail bars in America from Bon Appetit last year. He created two original cocktails using TABASCO® as a highlighted ingredient, and they were both amazing.
But, of the two cocktails Nick prepared, my favorite had to be the Scotch and Salt. A stirred Scotch drink with a grapefruit TABASCO® shrub, vermouth and a TABASCO® salt solution. The recipe looks a little involved but Nick made large batches of the shrub and salt solution that made the recipe a lot easier for us to handle individually. Not to mention, this drink is totally worth it! I’ve provided the recipe below so you can try to give this one a shot!
Scotch &Salt – makes one cocktail
Created by Nick Detrich of Cane & Table
For the shrub:
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice, strained
1/2 cup Tabasco® Green Jalapeño Sauce
2 cups demerara sugar
For the salt solution:
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Tabasco® Spicy Salt
1/4 cup Louisiana Smoked Pecan Salt
For the cocktail:
1 1/2 ounces blended scotch whiskey (Dewars preferred)
3/4 ounce Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso
1/2 ounce Kina Avion D’Or
1/4 ounce grapefruit shrub
4 drops salt solution
Orange peel, for garnish
For the shrub:
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine grapefruit juice and Tabasco Green Jalapeño Sauce until heated through. Remove from heat, add sugar and stir to incorporate. For the salt solution: Blend all ingredients in a blender until incorporated.
For the cocktail:
In an Old Fashioned glass with ice, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Garnish with orange peel.
This was an incredible trip! A gorgeous immersion into southern Louisiana and a peek into the production of one of the most iconic brands in the world. I loved meeting everyone associated with the company as well as getting to know the other bloggers invited on this trip. Over the course of the next couple of months, you’ll see cocktail recipes from me inspired by TABASCO® and the captivating world of gators and bayous. Look out for a classic cocktail this Friday with a decidedly spicy twist!
Y’all come back now, y’hear?!
Disclosure: This trip and this post was made possible by TABASCO® in conjunction with the TABASCO® Tastemakers program. This is the first in a series of posts over the next several months that will feature the Tabasco Family of Flavors in cocktail recipes. As always, all opinions are my own!