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At-Home Mixologist

How to Set Citrus on Fire

© Kirsten Stamn

With fall less than a week away, dark, complex drinks are steadily replacing light and fruity cocktails on bar menus. Recently opened New York restaurant The Musket Room makes a fantastic transitional offering: Fumero’s Gate combines coffee-infused Cynar, rye, Aperol, Cocchi Americano and Fernet Branca. But there's a dramatic twist, literally. Bartenders finish the drink by igniting an orange twist—a touch that provides an intense burst of caramelized citrus flavor along with a brief-but-spectacular pyrotechnics show. Head sommelier Erin Scala showed us how to execute this expert technique.

First, cut a half dollar-sized circle of citrus rind with a generous amount of pith. Gripping the peel around its edges about four inches over the cocktail, very carefully hold a lighter between the cocktail and the citrus skin, warming the skin gently for a few seconds. (“You want to get it nice and shiny,” Scala advises.) Then, pinch the citrus skin so the juices spray through the flame and into the glass. The fire will briefly plume out. Then, wipe the edge of the glass with the citrus. “If your bartender loves you, they'll wipe the base of the glass too,” says Scala, “so your fingers get this lovely citrus smell when you take a drink.” Proceed with caution.

Related: F&W’s Ultimate Cocktail Recipe Guide
Classic Cocktails
Amazing Whiskey Cocktails

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