At his Uptown brick-and-mortar, owner and Trinidad native Richard “Ram” Rajkumar lines shelves with dozens of different, brightly colored hot sauces. Made with organic, Hudson Valley-grown peppers, including fiery habañeros, Carolina Reapers, and ghost peppers, the naturally fermented sauces range from Too Hot to Handle to mild. “Each variety of pepper gives a different taste,” which Rajkumar seeks to enhance. “I don’t use mango or peach,” he says. “So, with my hot sauce, if you buy habañero, you get habañero flavor.”
Produced in the Hudson Valley, owner Jacqueline Hewitt’s not-too-hot sauce represents a recipe refined over three generations, from her grandmother in Martinique, to her mother’s Trinidad kitchen, to Hewitt’s own home in New York. “To me, hot sauce should be more about flavor and complementing food than melting your taste buds,” says Hewitt, who blends red habañeros, onions, garlic, and white vinegar to create a tangy sauce (that’s also gluten-free and vegan).