Meet the Blue Blazer, perhaps the only drink that requires keeping a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach. This age-old classic is worth the risks that come with it, especially if you’re a fan of cocktail history—and living on the edge.
The Blue Blazer’s origins can be traced to a gambling saloon in Gold Rush-era San Francisco, where cocktail pioneer Jerry Thomas hatched the idea. In his 1862 “Bar-tenders Guide,” he describes the drink as a “blazing stream of liquid fire,” which sums it up pretty well. For further context, the Blue Blazer is basically a Hot Toddy made with high-proof scotch and a side of showmanship.
“As an alcoholic drink goes, the Blue Blazer is as basic as it gets,” says New York bartender Aubrey Slater, underscoring the dichotomy of the drink’s ostentatious presentation and its rather simple build. Traditionally, the Blue Blazer calls for only two ingredients: spirit (usually Scotch whisky) and sugar, but based on Slater’s advice, this recipe creates a more balanced version. Otherwise, she says, “It’s just warm liquor with sugar.” The addition of water and citrus to the old-school Blue Blazer recipe bridges the gap between hot, sweetened booze and a more intentional mix of ingredients.
Now that you’ve got the specs down, Slater has a few important safety pointers to ensure no singed eyebrows. “I would advise starting with a close roll with your mugs close together. After some practice, the width of your roll will increase with comfort level. Also, keep your audience a safe distance away, and lastly, have a damp towel ready to throw on a liquid-fuel fire,” she advises. “Do not throw water on the fire as this will cause it to spread!” Go forth with confidence (and caution), and maybe do a practice round or two before you perform your new favorite boozy trick in front of an audience.
- 3 ounces boiling water (plus more boiling water to heat mugs)
- 4 ounces cask-strength Scotch whisky
- 2 teaspoons demerara or raw sugar
- Garnish: 2 lemon twists
Preheat 2 glass mugs with boiling water, discarding water before adding the cocktail.
Clear all flammable materials from mixing area. Lay down a damp towel or two to soak up potential spills. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
Add the scotch, sugar and boiling water into one of the mugs, and carefully ignite with a match.
Very carefully, pour the flaming liquid back and forth from mug to mug, about 5 times.
Divide the drink evenly between the two mugs and extinguish the flames by covering one mug with the other and vice versa.
Garnish each mug with a lemon twist.