When I thought of fire drinks that I have already covered, I have done Tiki ones like the Cradle of Life, burnt mint ones like the Vellocet, burnt rosemary ones like the Rubicon and Rosemary's Baby, and burnt citrus peel containing fires that are quenched by a chilled drink such as the Krakatoa. All of these were relatively new recipes, and I know that the history of flaming drinks goes back quite a ways. I have had classic Blue Blazer and new school ones like the Death in a Doublewide, but I did not feel comfortable doing that in my home kitchen. As I flipped through the literature, I found a few 19th century flaming poussé-cafes, but poussé-cafes always seem like a novelty drink (unless there is an egg yolk in the middle and then it is a right of passage). What I was searching for but had forgotten where I had read them were a series of drinks that utilized spirits ignited in inverted citrus peel "cups"; I had always been intrigued by them but glossed over them when it came time to mixed. Finally, I re-discovered several in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. The ones that used orange peels seemed like they would not utilize much spirit, so I opted for the American Flambée that calls for a grapefruit peel; there was another grapefruit peel one but it was served with boiling water which seemed wrong for the warm summer evening. I was definitely curious to see how alcohol as a solvent mixed with the caramelization effect from the flame would extract interesting flavors from the citrus peel.
American FlambéeTo this recipe, I increased the spirit to 1 1/2 oz and utilized Fighting Cock 103° Bourbon. After it burned to the point of extinguishing itself, it was about an ounce. Some loss was due to the burning process while the rest was either from absorption into the peel or drippage over the side. I did move the flaming peel from the jigger base to a bowl shortly after the photo (once the first drop of burning alcohol hit the counter). For a dash of sweetener, I used a 1/4 oz of simple syrup, and I added a stir with ice and strain step instead of serving it room temperature; however, I did add the "room temperature" to the post to pay homage to the original recipe.
• Take the skin from a large 1/2 grapefruit, turn inside out.
• Put in a vessel to hold skin, add 1/2 liquor glass of Bourbon.
• Light, and when out, strain into a glass.
• Add a dash of gum syrup.
• Garnish with nutmeg.