Sunday, February 24, 2008

Flaming Cocktails

Flaming Demonstration 2
Originally uploaded by chipandandy
What can be more exciting than setting a cocktail on fire for the delight and amusement of your guests?

Not much, really.

I mean a great cocktail is a thing of beauty, but a great cocktail on fire! That is something truly entertaining.

Before I go any further, the Ealoli Lawyers inform me I have to remind you that mixing fire and the home bar is not something to take lightly. Igniting alcohol is a dangerous thing and precautions should be taken. Know where your fire extinguisher is and know how to properly put out an alcohol fire. And that would be a wet towel for those of you scratching your head right about know.

And if you think this isn't serious buiness, search "flaming drinks gone wrong" on youTube. This one is my favorite.

Now, on to getting some fire into your glass.....

Alcohol is flammable. Simple enough. Anything more than about 30% alcohol by volume will burn, The higher the proof of the liquor, the better the burn. Some liquors burn better than others, as seen in this video:

Thank you to Loki from Modernday Hobbit for helping me with that one. Left to right in the video is Vodka, Gin, Overproof Rum, and Grand Marnier. Yes, Gin will burn (See! I told you! Dude, you so owe me a cocktail!)

The Ealoli lawyers informed me that I must remind you not to stick your fingers into a pool of alcohol that is one fire as I did in that video. I don't mind, but they get nervous easily.

Where was I? Oh yeah, getting fire into your glass.

Well, first you need a cocktail. Then you need something to hold the flame. Then you need a match.

The cocktail, that should be easy.

Something to hold the flame. Unless you happen to have a vessel designed for fire, this is not so easy because you really shouldn't just pour some overproof rum on your drink. You can, but there are better ways to do it. Matt Maranian in his book Pad suggests using a lime or lemon shell with a crouton safely skewered inside. That works really well, except the crouton is inedible and tends to smell bad as the flame uses up the alcohol. What works better is a sugar cube, and if you don't burn it too bad is still edible.

Lastly, you need a match. Or lighter. Or two sticks and some string. Or super-human powers with the ability to summon fire on command.

Oh, the Lawyers are on about something, but the duct tape is making it hard to understand what they are saying.

If you would like to see the whole process of the drink and fire, check out This video from Don at Experiment33. And, keep an eye out for the ceiling fans.

OK, so now I have an idea how to ignite my cocktail, how do I get a picture of said cocktail?

Well, you need to set up a few things first. You need a stable setting for your camera. If the position of your drinks and camera is not near a light switch, you need an assistant. Ignite your drink and take a picture. Turn off the lights and take another shot (without the flash) using what ever low-light setting your camera has. Then, present the two pictures side by side, like this:

The first two glasses are holding Bacardi 151, the third is Grand Marnier (which is a bit expensive to burn like this, but it smells so good). The second glass has a sugar cube added to show the flame better. It acts as a wick to lift the flame and the sugar burning adds some nice color to the flame.

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