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Spicy Redhead Hot Sauce Heats Up Brooklyn

By Janet Upadhye | January 4, 2013 11:17am

CROWN HEIGHTS — For years, Cindy List has graciously given away her signature hot sauce.

Friends knock on her Crown Heights door with empty jars to be filled, family members show up to brunch and strangers timidly dial her number to ask if they could get some — and List has always obliged.

But the saucy redhead’s days of generosity are over.

“I realized things needed to change when strangers started to call asking where they could buy my hot sauce,” she said. “I decided to go into business.”

List has spent more than a decade perfecting her creation. Her hot sauce is made of a unique mix of chilies, peaches, honey, spices from all over the world, mustard and vinegar. She makes her own curry powder from spices she dries herself, and the mustard is ground from seeds.

Every taste in her hot sauce is natural, grown locally and, up until recently, made in her small Brooklyn kitchen.

“I tested combinations on my friends at dinner parties,” she said. “It was clear when I found a winner.”

List’s hot sauce differs from most in that it has a sweet side.

“Many hot-sauce lovers love the pain of spice,” she said. “They want to get hurt.”

The hairdresser in Greenwich Village is not trying to hurt anyone with her sauce — but she guarantees it has a kick. And the name Redhead reflects the inviting nature of the sauce.

List said that most hot sauces have names like Hell's Revenge and Fiery Death Serum, but hers is just "a red-hot color for a red-hot sauce."

Now, one year into business, Redhead Hot Sauce has appeared at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Chile Pepper Fiesta, the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm and The Great Googa Mooga Festival.

Her creation can also be found at the raw bar at Mayfield Restaurant and in the Bloody Mary’s at Sample in Cobble Hill, Ciro’s in Carroll Gardens and Bar Corvo in Prospect Heights.

And this is only the beginning.

In the next six weeks, Redhead Hot Sauce will take a big step forward and get a lot more accessible, according to List who would only divulge that if all goes well, several small Brooklyn stores will soon carry her spicy sweet sauce. 

She also guaranteed that this year Redhead lovers would be able to order jars online.

“I’m taking this slow,” she said, adding that “getting the word out has been easy, the sauce speaks for itself.”