The Blue Blazer: How to Make America's Original Flaming Cocktail

Matt Ficke, head bartender at The Passenger's Columbia Room, whips up a 19th century classic

Matt Ficke, head bartender at The Passenger's Columbia Room, whips up a 19th century classic

"The theatrical use of fire in cocktails has a long and noble pedigree," Wayne Curtis writes in latest issue of The Atlantic. The Blue Blazer is the granddaddy of them all, a 150-year-old liquid pyrotechnics display that you have to see to believe. When Jerry Thomas published the first bartender's manual in 1862, the Blue Blazer was his signature drink: a simple hot toddy transformed through the magic of fire. The recipe comes to life in the video above, mixed (or should we say performed?) by Matt Ficke, head bartender at the Columbia Room

The small bar, hidden at the back of Derek Brown's The Passenger in Washington, D.C., fits just 10 people at a time and serves a menu of three cocktails a night. Matt graciously open up the bar at noon on a Tuesday to mix us a Blazer (or two or three, so we could shoot multiple takes!) and tell us a little about the craft of flammable mixology. "If you do this wrong, you set yourself, the floor, and your bar on fire," he says. "But if you do it right, it's quite the show!" So listen up, kids: don't try this at home. 

For more on the life and times of Jerry Thomas, don't miss David Wondrich's Imbibe! -- complete with an original illustration of the Blue Blazer in action: 

The Blue Blazer video was produced by Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, with thanks to The Passenger, Matt Ficke, Wayne Curtis, Sommer Mathis, Heather Horn, and Eric Slatkin, whose beautiful drinks videos were an inspiration.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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