Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Scotch Cocktails

Blue Blazer

A clear glass cocktail mug filled with light brown liquid and garnished with a lemon twist; a metal pitcher with flames coming from within it sits to the left of the mug. / Tim Nusog

When discussing the more flamboyant aspects of bartending, people’s minds often go to the halcyon days of 90s “flair bartending,” when showy bar workers would spin bottles and shakers, juggling the ingredients before pouring them as long streams into their waiting receptacles. But making a simple cocktail with an overabundance of showmanship appears to be as old as cocktail bartending itself. Meet the Blue Blazer: this age-old classic was invented by bartender Jerry Thomas, known as the grandfather of modern bartending, and while it’s essentially a scotch Hot Toddy with extra pyrotechnics, its worth the risks that come with it, especially if you’re a fan of cocktail history and fire.

According to the most popular theory, the Blue Blazer’s origins can be traced to a gambling saloon in Gold Rush-era San Francisco, where 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 well. There are a few legends of how, precisely, it came to be, but what’s most important is the technique. For one, the area should be cleared of anything flammable, especially spilled alcohol that could cause a conflagration—even still, it’s wise to keep an extinguisher on hand at all times while making this drink.

After pre-heating two glass mugs with boiling water, you’ll want to add more boiling water, scotch and sugar to one, then light it with a long-stemmed match. The resulting flames will be a vivid blue. Pour the mixture smoothly and assertively into the awaiting mug, taking care not to splash anything, creating a single blue flame stream.

If you’ve never made a drink like the Blue Blazer before, it’s advisable to practice pouring water between mugs before using any flame. Even then, it’s best to start with the mugs low and close together. Once you’ve got a few attempts under your belt without lighting anything on fire, you can start pulling the mugs further apart, creating a longer, more impressive stream. And, as usual with pyrotechnics, keeping the lights lower and dimmer will allow your enthralled guests to better witness the art of the Blue Blazer.


  • 4 ounces cask-strength Scotch whisky

  • 2 teaspoons demerara or raw sugar

  • 3 ounces boiling water (plus more boiling water to heat mugs)

  • Garnish: 2 lemon twists


Serves 2.

  1. Preheat 2 glass mugs with boiling water, discarding water before adding the cocktail.

  2. Clear all flammable materials from the mixing area. Lay down a damp towel or two to soak up potential spills. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.

  3. Add the scotch, sugar and boiling water into one of the mugs, and carefully ignite with a match.

  4. Very carefully, pour the flaming liquid back and forth from mug to mug, about 5 times.

  5. Divide the drink evenly between the two mugs and extinguish the flames by covering one mug with bottom of the other and vice versa.

  6. Garnish each mug with a lemon twist.