4. Pain Is Good Jamaican Style Hot Sauce
Habaneros, jerk spice, and lots of smokiness combined to make this one of the top scorers. It comes from one of the more artisanal brands, the Kansas-based Pain Is Good. "This is good shit. You could kill with this. If I was making hot sauce in my restaurant, this is what I would make," said Johnson, even though the hot sauce he actually makes at his restaurant contains bird's eye chili, pineapple, and ginger.
The Caribbean flavors had Talde itching to baste some chicken with it, while Evans was all about the nifty hip-flask-shaped bottle emblazoned with a howling face. "Every single Pain Is Good bottle has somebody screaming on the front, so shout-out to these guys for the best labels in the hot sauce game."
3. Frank's RedHot
An American classic, for many this is the benchmark for what hot sauce should taste like. Frank's was the principal ingredient in the first Buffalo wing sauce, which was created in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. And when Talde was manning the burners at Buddakan, he'd sauce the Buffalo wings with a 50/50 mixture of Frank's and Huy Fong Sriracha ("I never said I wasn't a basic bitch," he responded when we called him out on the rooster sauce).
"Frank's has figured out how to be a universal hot sauce that's good with everything, and I think it's because of the mouthfeel," Johnson theorized. "It coats the dish, it coats your mouth, it coats your tongue. It's really put together well." Both he and Talde admitted to keeping a bottle at home. "I have that shit at the crib all the time," said Talde. "Frank's is OG, man. It's the flavor I grew up with."