Sunday, August 18, 2013

american flambee

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXXVI) was picked by Muse of Doom of the Feu de Vie blog. The theme she chose was "Fire!" which I could not help but read with a Beavis & Butthead voice. The Muse elaborated on the theme with her description of, "Tiki-philes have their flaming spent lime shells and scorpion bowls. Classic cocktailers have the magic of a flamed orange zest. Molecular mixologists have their Smoking Guns... You don't have to go full Blue Blazer, not nearly -- heck, you could go full Fireball Whiskey!... You could riff on the Old Flame or come up with an inventive name of your own. You could even use a good firewater or burned wine. ...In essence, bring the heat! Bring the Fire! Bring your inspiration!"

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 Flambée
• 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.
To 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.
Once prepared, the nutmeg's aroma complemented the caramelized grapefruit peel notes; later, as the drink warmed up, it gained whiskey elements on the nose. Next, a sweet malt sip led into a Bourbon-y swallow with a wonderful bitter grapefruit finish. Overall, the effect was akin to a spectacularly generated à la minute grapefruit bitters that flavored a Whiskey Old Fashioned.
So thank you to the Muse of Doom for getting me to try a recipe I had skipped over many a time before, thanks to Saint Florian for protecting me in my mixology protocol, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the flame of Mixology Monday events from extinguishing!


KeithP said...

Wow! You hit on the theme for sure. I'll have to see if I can guard against lighting my entire apartment on fire in order to give this a go.

Happy to have myself back in the mix.

frederic said...

Put the inverted peel in a bowl for containment. I eventually did and it seemed safe that way. Cheers!