5 Ways to Add Fireworks to Your Cocktail
Mix up cocktails with an incendiary element, from a flamed orange peel to the fiery drama of a blowtorch used to “smoke” a cedar plank.
Some of these pyrotechnic recipes are a little over-the-top. But if you’re already lighting the grill out back for a BBQ, who knows what might happen next?
A word of caution: Whatever you do, be careful when using alcohol and flame.
Recipe courtesy Tyler Burns, beverage director, Spoke & Steele, Indianapolis
As the finishing touch to this sweet-and-spicy sipper, Burns sets a cedar plank on the bar and ignites it with a blowtorch. After the wood has blackened a bit and the cedar’s char scents the air, he traps smoke from the cedar plank under a coupe glass while preparing the drink in a beaker, which is then placed on the plank next to the coupe. The guest is presented with the plank, turns over the smoke-filled glass and fills it.
Build all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice, shake and strain into the beaker.
Using a blowtorch, torch a small circle on one end of a cedar plank until smoking.
Quickly invert a coupe glass to trap in some of the smoke. Serve with the mixed ingredients in the beaker on the side. Turn over the glass and pour the cocktail into it.
Recipe courtesy Arunas Bruzas, head bartender, The Blanchard, Chicago
This restaurant’s namesake cocktail is finished with a flamed orange peel to enhance the smoky elements from the Bourbon and impart citrus aromas to the drink. Although Bruzas brews up a cherrywood-smoked vanilla and lavender-saffron syrup, we’re recommending a simple vanilla syrup to add sweetness.
- 2 ounces Old Forester Signature Bourbon
- 1 ounce vanilla syrup (such as Sonoma Syrup Vanilla Bean Infused Simple Syrup)
- 1 dash Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
- Orange peel, for garnish
In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients except garnish with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
Recipe adapted from Luis Hernandez, head bartender, The Eddy, New York, NY
The original recipe contains The Eddy’s housemade walnut orgeat and “tiki salt” (salt mixed with citrus peels and bitters), but we’ve simplified the recipe a bit.
- ¾ ounce Avua Cachaça
- ¾ ounce Santa Teresa 1796 rum
- ½ ounce Ancho Reyes ancho chili liqueur
- ¾ ounce cold brew coffee
- ¾ ounce orgeat, such as BG Reynolds orgeat syrup
- ⅜ teaspoon salt
- 1 dash Dale DeGroff pimento bitters
- 2 cinnamon sticks, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except garnish with ice. Shake well and strain into a tiki mug over pebble ice. Use a blowtorch or long-handled lighter to briefly flame/toast the cinnamon sticks, extinguishing if they ignite.
Recipe courtesy Max Blowers, bartender, David Burke Kitchen, New York City
This is no ordinary Negroni. Rosemary is torched to create an aromatic, woodsy scent before a flamed citrus peel adds even more visual drama.
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 ounce G’Vine Gin
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce clove-infused Punt e Mes*
- ½ ounce Combier Pamplemousse
- Grapefruit peel, for garnish
Use a lighter to torch the tips of the rosemary sprig. Set a snifter over the sprig until it burns out. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients, except garnish, in a mixing glass with ice. Stir to chill, and strain into the smoked snifter. Garnish with the leftover charred rosemary and a flamed grapefruit peel.
*Toast five whole cloves in a pan until fragrant. Combine with 1 quart of Punt e Mes and leave to infuse overnight. Strain and discard cloves.
Recipe courtesy Nick Digiovanni, head bartender, Público, University City, MO
It’s worth the effort to make pineapple-infused rum for this drink, since it provides both a flavorful spirit and the finishing garnish. At Público, the pineapple is charred on the restaurant’s open hearth. Try this (carefully!) on your backyard grill during your holiday weekend BBQ.
- ¾ ounce spiced rum
- ¾ ounce pineapple-infused Plantation Original Dark rum*
- ½ ounce Banane du Brésil
- ½ ounce falernum (such as John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum)
- ½ ounce orange juice
- ¼ ounce lime juice
- ¼ ounce Angostura Bitters
- Grated cinnamon, for garnish
- 1 chunk of pineapple, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients, except garnish, with ice. Shake well, and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Grate cinnamon over the top and garnish with a skewered slice of grilled pineapple.
To grill pineapple, set grill to medium heat and sear on each side for three minutes.
*To make infused rum: Cut ¾ of a pineapple into small chunks, and place in a large jar. Pour in one 750-ml bottle of rum and seal tightly. Allow to infuse for at least 24 hours. Strain with cheesecloth, reserving a few pieces of pineapple to garnish this drink.
- 1Break out the Blowtorch: Smoke & Spice
- 2Flaming Orange Peel: The Blanchard Old Fashioned
- 3Torched Cinnamon Sticks: Weekend at Mort’s
- 4Smoldering Herbs: Smoked Rosemary Negroni
- 5Pineapple Pyrotechnics: The Rum Shaker