Combine the art of throw and a little pyrotechnics for a big show.PRESENTED BY BOOTHBY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH BUSHMILLS
Bartending is an old trade. Many of the ways bartenders work today — the techniques, drinks, and ingredients — hark back to the 1800s and earlier. But why is that — why is there such reverence for the old ways?
We think it's because the old ways work. Sometimes the old way, the long way — the less efficient way — tastes better.
That’s what we’re exploring in this three-part primer on bartending technique. It’s something that the folks who make Bushmills know well, too.
Bushmills is the oldest licence distillery in the world, having received their licence all the way back in 1608. Bushmills has survived Irish whiskey industry booms (and prolonged busts) to arrive in the 21st century as the award-winning Irish whiskey distillery that it is.
It’s like their master distiller, Colum Egan, says: “We’re not good because we’re old, we’re old because we’re good.”
Today, we're looking at how to make the Blue Blazer. Blazing a cocktail is one of the oldest bartending techniques out there — it's the original cocktail flair — dating all the way back to the 1860s and before.
So let’s light it up and learn a little more about how to blaze a cocktail below.
What is the Blue Blazer?
The Blue Blazer is a cocktail defined by the way it is made — the clue is right there in the name. Blazer, because the damn thing is set alight; blue, for the ribbons of blue flame that are seen pouring from tin to tin as it is made.
It’s a cocktail served hot, so it’s best appreciated in the colder months, and it’s one that lends itself to riffing: throw in all sort of hard spices to flavour the drink however you so wish. Just don’t forget the most crucial ingredient: alcohol.
Yes, alcohol is flammable. Whilst you may want to opt for higher proof alcohols — something over 50 percent ABV will light most of the time — you can get a Blazer going with 40 percent ABV spirit, like Double Deuce Lounge bar manager Oliver Churcher has here with Bushmills Black Bush.
How to blaze a cocktail
Like the art of the throw, blazing a cocktail is an old technique. You’ll want to master the throw before you take the step here of adding fire to the mix — take a look here to get the art of the throw nailed down.
At its core, what you’re doing with the Blue Blazer is lighting alcohol on fire, then pouring it between two vessels in a pyrotechnic display that will coax oohs and aahs from your guests. Humans — we just love fire.
But, as Churcher says, you’ll want to make sure that you’re fire-safe first.
“Make sure that first of all, you’ve got a fire extinguisher at hand just in case things go wrong,” Churcher says.
“When you’re blazing something you always want to keep the liquids far away from your body. And you also always want to do it well away from the the ice well or the bar top so that if you do spill something, it just goes straight on the bar floor and harmlessly goes out — rather than hitting any flammable booze or flammable people.”
First, you’ll need to ignite the mix of liquids (see below for the recipe). For this, a long lighter is best — we’ve tried it with matches and it’s just annoying.
You then want to slowly begin to pour the mix from one handled tin to another (you’ll need tins, like the coffee pots Churcher uses in the video here, that allow you to hold the vessels without your hands getting hot).
If the flame goes out, relight it and get to pouring again. You want to get to the point at which big ribbons of flame are poured between each vessel.
“First practise with water until you get your technique down,” says Churcher. “Once you build up the technique and you’re comfortable and make sure you’ve got all your safety measures in place you can attempt doing the real deal.”
Blue Blazer recipe
- 60ml Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey
- 30ml boiling water
- 15ml sugar syrup
- 2 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters
- two coin-sized discs of lemon peel
- Combine all ingredients above in one of two handled pots.
- Light the ingredients on fire with a long lighter (a barbecue lighter works well).
- Pour half the flaming contents from one pots into the other pot.
- Pour the ingredients back and forth half a dozen times.
- Extinguish the flame by placing the empty pot over the flaming pot.
- Pour the extinguished drink into a stemmed or thick walled glass (or mug).
- Garnish with a twist of lemon.
Bushmills Black Bush is made with a high component of malt whiskey in the blend, and because they use predominantly ex-oloroso sherry casks for maturation, it means that Black Bush has a rich, malty character, with fruity sherries notes and a smooth finish.