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

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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.

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

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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