Meet the Blue Blazer, the only drink we know of that requires keeping a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach. This age-old classic is worth the numerous risks that come with it, especially if you’re a fan of cocktail history (and living on the edge)—we can trace the Blue Blazer’s origins 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 it as a “blazing stream of liquid fire,” which sums it up pretty well, but for further context, it’s basically a Hot Toddy made with high-proof scotch and a side of showmanship. We spoke with New York City bartender Aubrey Slater about her thoughts on the drink and how to make one at home as safely (and deliciously) as possible.
“As an alcoholic drink goes, the Blue Blazer is as basic as it gets,” says Slater, underscoring the dichotomy of the drink’s ostentatious presentation and its rather simple build. Traditionally, the Blue Blazer calls for just two ingredients: spirit (usually Scotch whisky) and sugar, but based on Slater’s advice, we’ve laid out something with a bit more balance. 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, it resembles a Hot Toddy (albeit a more flashy one). Now that you’ve got the specs down, Slater has a few important safety pointers to ensure no eyebrows are singed off in the process. “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.
- 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
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 sugar, scotch 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.
Garnish each mug with a lemon twist.