A decade ago, it might have seemed almost too obvious for the lead singer of a punk-tinged alt-rock band to come out with a hot sauce brand—a condiment as hardcore as the albums. 500 restaurants, 7,000 supermarkets, and countless bottles later, however, it actually makes perfect sense that Offspring frontman Dexter Holland’s Gringo Bandito project was so successful. Like the Offspring’s catalog, the three signature flavors of Gringo Bandito pack a wallop with a heavy undercurrent topped with notes that are surprisingly pure and light.
The Green hot sauce is refreshing in its consistency. It doesn’t fall into the trap of many similar styles that tamp down the heat by thinning the hot sauce. Instead, the Gringo Bandito Green keeps the spice down by balancing out the habaneros and serranos (bold choices for their lightest sauce) with citrusy, herbal mojo and plenty of fruity garlic. Thin enough to sprinkle over rice, nachos, soups, or sauces, the Green hout sauce is has the thickness to assert itself on top of cuts of meat. The slow, low burn blossoms and lingers on the tongue long after the first bite, revealing the full depth of the flavor of the mysterious “other peppers” listed on the menu.
Dexter in a hot sauce frenzy… photo credit Chapman Baehler.
The Original Red hot sauce is a medley of three peppers—citrusy habaneros, sweet jalapenos, and warm, earthy Japanese hot peppers. What stands out about the Red, however, over other low-to-mid-heat hot sauces, is that the Gringo Bandito Red manages to boast a first ingredient of vinegar without being as runny as Tabasco-style sauces like Crystal or Texas Peat. Instead, it’s thick like Valentina or Cholula, only with far more depth of flavor and complexity. It’s ideal for dishes that call for a cayenne-forward hot sauces like Frank’s, instead giving an extra woah-woah to mac n cheese, wings, and buffalo-style cauliflower.
Our journalist Meghan is making us hungry with these dope hot sauce shots…
Gringo Bandito’s Super Hot variety just might be the best of the bunch. Like the song goes, it’s “complicated, X-rated,” with Moruga Scorpion peppers and Bhut Jolokia Ghost Peppers. There is plenty of flavor underneath the intense but not-insurmountable heat. This hot sauce is great on its own, poured over cuts of meat or into dressings and marinades, or just to kick your usual Mexican favorites up a notch. It has a strong character on its own, but easily harmonizes when blended into a dish. That’s where Dexter’s garlic influence on all three sauces is a smart move, lending a familiar flavor that plays nice with others even while the peppers and vinegar are moshing off to the side.
If you want to give Gringo Bandito a shot in the proper context, you have your chance this summer. 311 and The Offspring are trekking across the US as part of their co-headlining “Never-Ending Summer” tour with support from Gym Class Heroes, and they’re bringing Gringo Bandito along for the ride. Check out the Gringo Bandito tent on site at one of the shows listed below and you can slurp a sample.
Check out this rad Gringo Bandito Taco Challenge from 2012.
Offspring & 311 Shows featuring Gringo Bandito:
07/25 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
07/27 – West Valley City, UT – USANA Amphitheater
07/28 – Las Vegas, NV – Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
07/29 – Chula Vista, CA – Mattress Firm Amphitheatre
07/31 – Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavilion
08/21 – Hartford, CT – XFINITY Theatre
08/22 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center
08/24 – Bethel, NY – Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
08/25 – Wantagh, NY – Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
08/26 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live