This week we're taking on setting your drinks on FIRE. Here are some tricks using a flame to take your cocktails to another level with aroma, texture, and flavor.
*Do not attempt to perform any of these while intoxicated, because overproof spirits and butane torches can be difficult to control. And, obviously, light things on fire at your own risk.
1. FLAMING TIKI GARNISH — Drizzle a half ounce of over-proof white rum on a dried citrus wheel and light with a lighter. Incorporate a signed herbal note by poking a sprig of mint or rosemary through the middle of the citrus before you ignite it. Not only does this add a charred rum, citrus, and herbal note to the top of the drink, but it's an exciting technique to add to your tiki repertoire to impress your guests.
2. BRULÉED FRUIT PEEL — Cut off a 2-inch rectangle of a lemon peel with a citrus peeler or paring knife. Be sure not to cut too deep, in order to avoid the bitter pith beneath the outer layer. Coat the oily inside of the peel with table sugar and lay it sugar side up on a fireproof surface, like a baking dish or frying pan. Use a culinary butane torch, set to a 3 to 4-inch flame, for the next step. Slowly move the tip of the flame back and forth along the sugary side until the surface bubbles and starts to turn brown. Do so evenly so the peel is consistently caramelized. Watch carefully in order to avoid charring the sugars, as this will add an acrid charred note to the garnish. Drop the peel into the finished cocktail and it will add a caramelized citrus flavor.
3. SMOKED GLASS — On a fireproof surface, place a clean wood chip that will fit under the glass you want to use for the cocktail. Use a culinary butane torch to set the chip on fire. When it begins to burn, turn off the torch and place the cocktail glass over the chip. The flame inside the glass will burn up all the oxygen inside, which will in turn extinguish the flame. The ensuing smoke that emanates from the wood chip should fill the glass and leave a light smoky flavor on the inside surface. Turn away while the smoke is still inside the glass and craft your cocktail. When you are ready to pour, take the glass off of the wood chip and allow the smoke to dissipate, then pour the chilled cocktail into the glass.
4. HIGH-PROOF SPIRIT IGNITION — Pour a quarter ounce of an overproof liqueur like Chartreuse into a rocks glass, and roll it around the inside edges of the glass to coat it. Drop in an herb sprig that will complement the flavor of the cocktail. Make your cocktail in a mixing glass to the side. When it is ready, use a stick lighter to ignite the Chartreuse in the glass. Let it burn for a moment, then pour the cocktail over the flame to extinguish it, and then the cocktail is ready to serve.
- Culinary torches can be found at most home kitchen stores.
- Wood chips pre-cleaned and sized for smoking in grills and meat smokers are what you want for this application. They can be found in the barbecue grill section of your local supermarket or hardware store.
- Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum is a Jamaican favorite and the perfect rum to use for tiki ignitions. It can be found at many liquor stores for under $20.
- Chartreuse is a mysterious French alpine liqueur with 130 botanical ingredients held secret by an order of monks who control its production. It can be found at most better liquor store for between $55 and $65.