The Versailles Cocktail

Jan 27, 2012 3:01 pm

A flaming display of cocktail pyrotechnics

After visiting Momofuku's new cocktail bar, Booker & Dax, I was reminded of the importance of a good show, as well as a good drink. One of the feats their bartenders perform is to stick a 1500-degree "red hot poker" into a mixing glass (filled with booze and a little extra sugar and water), which immediately sends flames shooting a foot out of the glass. While visually stimulating, this also serves to caramelize the ingredients and add a smokey element to the now-boiling cocktail.

No one I know really keeps such apparati at home, but one thing that you can try with everyday household items is flaming an orange peel. While flaming the oils of an orange is not necessary for many drinks, it can add a citrusy depth. Dale DeGroff popularized this feat of modern cocktails for classic drinks such as the Blood and Sand and his Cosmopolitan, but you could certainly also try it with an Old Fashioned or Sazerac.

I've included this Champagne cocktail by master bartender Brian Miller below as another example. To flame the orange, cut a small round disc in the orange peel, and hold it in one hand. Light a match and wait for the fire to burn past the combustable head, so you don't end up with sulfur in your cocktail. Then squeeze the orange from both sides to release the oils in the direction of the drink. I hope this inspires you to add a bit of pyrotechnics to your next dinner at home.

flaming orange peel
Photo: Brian Quinn
Flaming an orange peel over your cocktail is an easy, impressive bartender trick.
Servings: 1 cocktail


2 ounces Four Roses bourbon
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce St. Germain
splash of Champagne
flamed orange peel, to garnish
  1. Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a Champagne flute.
  2. Top with Champagne and garnish with a flamed orange twist.
Level of Difficulty: 
Prep Time: 
5 minutes
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