The Blue Blazer is definitely an advanced bartender's cocktail because it involves rolling flaming whiskey from one mug to another. The story behind the drink is that Jerry Thomas created it in the 1800's and etchings of him making the drink are possibly the most famous images of "The Professor" that survive today.
Tip: I don't recommend this cocktail to the novice bartender or anyone who has been drinking, especially if that person is the one making it. You are playing with fire, literally!
Before attempting this or any flaming drink, be sure to read the fire safety tips below!
- Pour the Scotch, water and sugar into a heat-resistant (silver-plated or pewter and tulip-shaped are recommended) mug with a handle.
- Light the mix on fire.
- While still ablaze, roll the mix into an identical mug and back again. Do this about 4-5 times.
- Pour the mix into another heat resistant cup with a lemon peel, then put one of the mugs over the top to extinguish the flames before drinking.
Tips from David Wondrich on Making a Blue Blazer
In his book, Imbibe!, David Wondrich not only gives a great history of the Blue Blazer but passes on a few tips for mastering the drink. Be sure to follow this advice so you don't burn yourself or start anything on fire.
- Pour over a tray full of water.
- You don't want the fire to go out while pouring.
- Pour only half of the contents each time.
- Mix it quick as the handles of the mugs will get hot.
- Turn the lights down to get the full effect and to make it easier to see what you are doing.
- Practice with water first.
- Go outside during your first few attempts at flaming.
11 Safety Tips for Flaming Drinks
There are a number of drinks that allow bartenders to play with fire. Typically, it is when an over-proof rum is floated on top of a drink, lit, then extinguished before drinking. Thomas' rolling technique is very old-school and considerably more dangerous than the modern trick of lighting a shot glass on fire.
However, it is very important to remember that fire is dangerous and you need to be safe if you are going to attempt any flaming drink. If you need to see evidence, watch this Inside Edition video on YouTube or simply search 'flaming shots gone wrong.'
It is a very serious matter and here are some safety tips you need to follow:
- Always extinguish the flames before drinking! The flaming liquor can easily spill down your chin and onto your clothes or hair, causing a fireball effect and severe burns. Best case scenario, it may singe your nose hairs or leave you with no eyebrows and neither of those options are pleasing, either.
- When extinguishing, snuff rather than blow. It is very easy to get too close to a flaming glass when attempting to blow out the flames and your hair can quickly catch on fire. Instead, use a stainless steel mixing tin (jiggers work for shot glasses) to cover the flaming glass until the fire is out.
- If you've been drinking, don't try it! Seriously, playing with fire while you are drunk is never a good idea, so just don't do it. Make the drink without fire and save yourself a trip to the emergency room or a visit from the fire department.
- Know your skills and don't try it on a whim. This is particularly important for the Blue Blazer and that is why I've included Wondrich's practicing tips. Pouring flaming whiskey back and forth between mugs is not an endeavor for those "I bet I could do that!" moments.
- Don't overfill the glass. Leave some room at the top of the glass to prevent splashes from going over the sides.
- Clean up any liquor spills before lighting the fire. If your flame jumps onto the table where you accidentally spilled that rum or vodka, the fire can quickly get out of control.
- Use a self-extinguishing lighter. The average cigarette lighter is better than matches or a Zippo-style because a soon as your thumb releases the lever, the flame goes out. Safety first!
- Pour drinks into thick glassware. The heat of the flames can quickly shatter thin glass, spilling liquor and fire all over the bar, table or you.
- Tie back long hair and loose clothing. If you are sober and want to try a flaming drink, make sure all flammables are out of the way. That includes hair, clothing, paper napkins and bar towels.
- Keep guests back from the flames. This is an important note for bartenders as well. Don't let your patrons ooh and ahh right next to that flaming shot on the bar. Always put out the fire before they get close.
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby. If you notice in almost every video of 'flaming shots gone wrong' there is one thing missing... a fire extinguisher! Rarely do you even see a non-alcoholic drink and small fires can be put out with water, so be prepared just in case an accident does happen.
More Flaming Drink Recipes
The Blue Blazer may be a drink for the pros, but anyone can try one of these flaming drinks. Just be sure to follow the safety tips!