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Shannon Bryan

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Out Going with Shannon Bryan
Posted: February 3, 2013

Great bourbons of fire: Mixology classes at One Dock, Kennebunkport

Shannon Bryan photos


Lighting things on fire is sometimes frowned upon. Especially if you’re, say, sitting in your cube at the office, quietly igniting the paperwork in your file cabinet.

But fire has its upsides. It comes in handy if you’re camping, roasting chestnuts, or seeking warmth. And it’s helpful to have on hand when you find yourself stranded on a remote mountainside and need a smoke signal to alert the rescue chopper to your precise location.

Also, it sure makes a regular ‘ol cocktail a whole lot livelier.

One Dock at the Kennebunkport Inn recently held a flaming cocktails class, where kitchen manager (and infusion fan) Ben Lohnes set fire to some Wild Turkey just for the heck of it. And, you know, to teach other people how to set cocktails on fire.

Looks so quaint on the outside, no? One can barely tell that cocktails are flaming inside.

The class was third in One Dock’s ongoing series of mixology classes, which continue through March. It’s a simple way for the cocktail-curious to learn more about how to cocktail at home – from the classics to the low-calorie.

Making the cocktail.

On Saturday, Lohnes put the spotlight (which was made out of fire!) on the Blue Blazer. It’s one of the most well-known flaming cocktails, created by bartender Jerry Thomas back in the 19th century. The ingredients are simple – it’s the method of preparation (fire!) that makes it special.

Blue Blazer
2.5 oz rye or bourbon whiskey or brandy
2.5 oz boiling water
1 tsp powdered sugar
Lemon peel

Lighting it on fire!

Once mixed, the drink is set ablaze. A couple things to note here: For the drink to ignite, the booze needs to be at least 40% alcohol. And contrary to my dramatic expectations, the drink didn’t burst into flames. It lights slowly, emitting a subtle blue flame at first. Metal containers should be used, with attention paid to the fact that those containers are going to grow increasingly hot in your hands.

It’s on fire! The flaming concoction is passed from container to container a few times.

The drink is poured (careful! It’s on fire!) from one container to another 3-4 times. With each pass, the flames increase. Lohnes noted that beginners should keep the containers close together, lest the flaming drink spill onto the floor, the counter, yourself. (He also noted that, in his experience, the flame goes out when it hits the floor. But why risk it, right?)

As the alcohol heats up, the flames get bigger. And flamier.

While fire is sometimes used simply for show, the flame can also dramatically change the taste of a drink, adding a smoky flavor. It’ll also impress your friends, because it’s fire!

The fire often goes out when poured into a glass, or is blown out before being served. And the happy recipient is warned: This drink is hot – it was just on fire! Don’t burn yourself!

Mixology classes at One Dock, Kennebunkport Inn

Feb 9: Crafting cocktails from scratch
Feb 23: Classic food and wine pairing made simple
March 2: Classic cocktails
March 9: Mixers, juices, hers and spices
March 16: Drinks for the calorie-conscious
March 23: Bourbon and scotch – What’s the difference?
March 30: Craft beer tap takeover

Classes run from 2-3 pm on Saturdays and cost $20 per person, except the classic food and wine pairing class, which is $25 and the tap takeover, which is $15 per person.


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