Hellfire Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes Approximately

    2 Cups

Appears in

This was one of the many concoctions invented by Steven Vranian, who worked with us at the Santa Fe Bar and Grill in Berkeley, then at Stars San Francisco, and later as chef of Stars in Singapore. He must have played with a lot of chemistry sets as a kid, because he was always coming up with various pick-lings and hot sauces.

I like this sauce particularly on a grilled fish sandwich, over fries, or on oysters grilled in their shells, or deep-fried in a po’ boy sandwich.

The sauce keeps refrigerated for up to three months.

You will need cheesecloth.


  • 6 fresh habañero chilies
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 teaspoon bitters (Angostura or New Orleans)


Cut the stems off the chilies. Wear gloves or use the food processor, and be careful of your eyes, but in any case, rough-chop the chilies, seeds and all.

Put the lime juice and salt in a glass container (like a preserving jar), and stir to dissolve the salt. Add the chopped chilies, brandy, and bitters. Mix well.

Cover with cheesecloth only. Let sit at room temperature for 5 days. Strain, cover (or bottle), and refrigerate.