"Flavor. Not just heat." It's both the motto and the mission of condiment company A+B American Style. To that end, founders and childhood friends Ariel Fliman and Brian Ballan put a lot of thought into what kind of peppers they use in their pepper sauce.
"We experimented with a lot of different chili peppers," Fliman says. They eventually decided on the red Fresno pepper, which Ballan says has an "interesting depth of flavor" and is less commonly used in hot sauce.
"It's sweet," Fliman adds. "No other sauces really focus on that."
The sauce also includes habanero peppers for heat, vinegar for tartness, carrot for a touch of sweetness, and salt. With the salt and vinegar, there's no need for additional preservatives, a fact that Fliman and Ballan take pride in.
Because of the sauce's nuanced flavor, they suggest it as a substitute not just for other hot sauces, but also for cocktail sauce or ketchup. "It's thicker than some other sauces," Fliman says, "and goes particularly well with salty seafood. I really like it with oysters, clams, shrimp, though it's also great with heartier things like chili or burgers."
They aren't in a hurry to add to the product line, but moving forward Ballan says they may offer something with "more spice and more texture." Don't look for them to stray too far from the original though. "All our products will be chili-based," he promises.
Visit their site for recipes, including a carrot juice-based Bloody Mary alternative, for a list of establishments selling or serving A+B, or to order directly from them.
About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.