Burning down the house

When I was asked by my editor to write a story about holiday drinks, my suspicious nature drove me to ask why he had chosen me for the assignment. Once he had convinced me that he did not consider me a functional alcoholic, but rather an expert on drinking, I was happy to begin my research with a clean conscience. I roamed the alleys and thoroughfares of Portland, searching for that perfect holiday warm-up. A mild and sexy cocktail, served hot with a hint of spice. A cocktail that would make a lover want to drop their drawers and get cozy by a fire. Problem was that aside from the toddy, the Mexican coffee and the occasional hot buttered rum, Portland’s bars seem to lack of that special, core-melting blend of liquors to cheer your holiday nights.

My research drove me to the books, many of which were filled with complicated recipes for warm drinks that required no small amount of culinary skill with various and sundry bar implements. Then, when browsing "Playboy’s Host and Bar Book," circa 1970, I found what could be the most dangerous holiday drink you could ever possibly make. In the interest of my own reckless and self-destructive whims, I hereby present to you the Blue Blazer.

First, put on your best Hef pajamas and round up a snow bunny – this is a drink for two. Then gather your materials: two mugs, a stove, two small saucepans, a non-flammable surface and optional asbestos gloves (color coordinated to your pajamas, you swinger, you). If you are any sort of respectable drinker (as I can assure you, I am) you should already have, in your well-stocked liquor cabinet, the main ingredient to the Blue Blazer – a good Scottish whiskey which’ll burn like jet fuel.

To begin the process, heat about 5 oz. of water, on the stove, to just about boiling. Add 2 tablespoons of honey and stir. In a separate small pot, heat your whiskey to just below the boiling point. Playboy doesn’t know what the boiling point is – and neither do I – so basically, just don’t let it boil.

While your liquids are heating, warm two ceramic mugs. You can do this with excess hot water that you can later discard.

Then, go get some matches. At this point you may want to move everything to some sort of non-flammable surface (Playboy suggests a silver platter) and take a few sips of that whiskey to calm your nerves because things are about to get interesting.

Fill about 1/3 of one of your pre-warmed mugs with water and honey. Fill the other mug, to about 1/4, with hot whiskey. Grin seductively at your date/partner/fire marshal. Light the whiskey with a long match.

Now’s the hard part.

Pour the flaming whiskey into the mug with the water and honey. Then pour the flaming mix back into the previous mug. Pour back and forth until the flame subsides. You may need to pour several times before this happens – depending on how well your whiskey burns.

After the flame has subsided (providing that everything has gone well) divide the Blue Blazer between the two mugs and enjoy. Make sure the flame is out before you drink or you may need to get that rhinoplasty sooner than expected. Playboy recommends that the lights be dimmed as you pour the Blue Blazer between the mugs. The dimness will accentuate the flames, impressing your companion.

This leads to a few cautions about the drink. First, mugs are not known for their ease of pouring, especially when pouring in dim light. The worst-case scenario is that you spill a drop of flaming whiskey on your silk, non-flame-retardant pajamas, causing you to panic and drop the entire fiery concoction onto your coffee table and/or companion, setting them ablaze. Should your companion be wearing flammable hair products, this situation could be particularly damaging. Just remember, running will only oxygenate the flames, causing them to burn higher. If you should run, don’t go near that dried up Christmas tree or… WOOOSH! Merry-fuckin’-x-mas!

I’m not sure if disfiguring burns or the amount of time required to prepare the Blue Blazer necessarily justify the end product, which is basically hot whiskey with honey and water. Who cares? By the time you’ve experienced a couple of Blue Blazers, the only question will be who’s sober enough to make the third round without burning down the house.