Think of Lonny Root as a hot-sauce sommelier. Customers overwhelmed by the 500 hot sauces stocked at his 6-month-old Huntington shop have only to ask his expert advice.
First, Root said, "I ask the customer, 'Do you like your hot sauce savory or sweet?,' and what level of heat they are comfortable with." Then the tasting begins. Root keeps about 60 bottles and jars open at his tasting bar. "I only have about five shots to find a sauce they like -- because by that time they can't really taste anything."
Root, a recently retired paperhanger, had long been a hot-sauce enthusiast. His shop is organized by manufacturers, and certainly hot-sauce makers have no equals in coming up with evocative names: Pain is Good, TorchBearer and Defcon are just three of the lines he carries. He has a section devoted to local producers, such as High River Sauces from Deer Park and Jersey Barnfire, from Sparta, New Jersey, which grows its own peppers and makes seasonal sauces such as roasted-peach habanero.
Of course, some customers eschew his expertise. "One lady came in," he recalled. "She said, 'What's the hottest sauce you have?' I asked her what kind of flavor she was looking for. She said, 'Just bring me the hottest one.' " Root let her try the Carolina Reaper Mash. "It's hotter than ghost pepper," he said. "It's 1.5 million on the Scoville scale and has been known to top 2 million. She tried it, did not break a sweat and bought $100 worth."
Bottle sizes at Some Like It Hot & Spicy range from 4 to 16 ounces, and most are priced between $6 and $13.
Some Like It Hot & Spicy
380 New York Ave., Huntington