Spice Up Winter With These Bottled Sauces

In case you're still weeping over news of sriracha's potential extinction/shortage, never fear, there are plenty of potent bottled hot sauces to take your mind off of it. Even better, they derive from some of Chicago's most inventive restaurants, rather than the grocery store shelf.

Hot sauces at Dia de Los Tamales
(Dia de Los Tamales' hot sauces)

The latest entrant to the restaurant-bottled sauce arsenal in Chicago is Lillie's Q's hot pepper vinegar. This fiery little guy joins the roster of sauces and rubs at the Bucktown barbecue haunt. Made with red Thai chiles, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and natural spices, it's an apt addition to any collard green, any soups or stews, and any mouth. Give it a whirl atop some pulled pork and marvel at the versatility. The sauce is $8 and can be purchased here.

Sriracha Sauce

One dash of Angry Bull hot sauce at Grange Hall Burger Bar and you'll be happy as a clam in chowder. The name makes it seem more abusive than it is, as Grange Hall's hot sauce is less fierce than most. Modeled after Louisiana-style hot sauce, it boasts more tartness and sweetness than straight-up chiles and fire. It's a nice, pungent addition to most burgers at Grange Hall or any of the egg-based dishes at breakfast, such as the quiche Loretta or the peasant-style baked eggs.

Bill Kim has established himself as the Paul Newman of bottled hot sauces, with a venerable lineup that now includes four unique elixirs. His latest are BellySmoke and BellyBomb, two creations that serve to ignite various dishes with smoky, heady, blistering flavors. Belly Fire combines Serrano chiles with carrots and garlic, rife with vinegar notes, endearing it to soups and even Bloody Marys. Less hot is Kim's Seoul Sauce, a medley of balsamic, brown sugar, and soy. This one's especially delicious as a dumpling dipping sauce or drizzled over just about anything. Sauces are used and available at all of Kim's restaurants: Urbanbelly, bellyQ, and Belly Shack.

One of the most thorough lines of house-bottled hot sauces can be found at Dia de Los Tamales. The mod Mexican eatery in Pilsen peddles neoteric takes on tamales and soups, bolstered by innovative hot sauces designed to invigorate the senses and adjacent ingredients. Each one varies in heat, from the intense ghost pepper-based Apocalypse Sauce and habanero-based Meltdown Sauce to the milder jalapeño-infused Riot Sauce and Tree Sauce made with chile de arbol.

Dia de Los Tamales
The ultimate destination for house-bottled hot sauces, however, is Sauce & Bread Kitchen, home base for Co-op Sauce. Run by Mike Bancroft, Co-op Sauce originated as Co-op Image, an arts and entrepreneurship organization for Chicago youth. The sauces arose as a way to raise funds for programming, like how Girl Scouts sell cookies. For years now, Co-op Sauce has been a fixture at farmers' markets, on indie grocery shelves, in restaurants, and in home pantries. Using locally sourced ingredients, Bancroft crafts some seriously novel hot sauce varieties, like a killer Strawbanero sauce made with strawberries and habanero, and hot sauces aged in barrels. Sriracha fanatics will love the Chi-racha sauce, made with jalapeños and garlic.

- Matt Kirouac