Flames, Toasts, and Smoke
I got an email from a bartender asking about the differences between flaming, toasting, and smoking, and I thought this would be a fun post. SO here we go!
Flames There are three types here. The first is igniting the oils in a citrus peel to add a smoky depth and accent the flavor to a drink. This is a great addition to the classic Old Fashioned. For a demonstration check out this video of Robert Hess and The Cocktail Spirit on Small Screen Network.
The second is setting fire to a high proof liquor floated on top on a drink (usually a shot such as a Flaming Dr. Pepper). This can be a dangerous practice, and in some states it is illegal to do. I don’t recommend this.
The third is used to “cook” fruit or caramelize sugar. Place high proof bitters or tincture into an atomizer or spray bottle, and by holding a lighter in front of the spray, igniting the alcohol contained in the tincture to “brulee” fruit or sugar. I recommend a container that does NOT have a continuious spray for safety reasons. In any of these methods, remeber you are working with fire, so be careful!
Toastingis simply burning fresh herbs then extinguishing the herbs inside the drink. This adds activates the flavors, as well as add a smoky tang to your drink. Great with rosemary,and tarragon.
Smoking has many variations from infusing with vaporizers, Hukka Pipes, catching or blowing smoke into a mixing tin, and even using a backyard or commercial smoker. The technique used depends on what flavor smoke is being added. This being my favorite of the three, I have an entire page dedicated to this with more details to the techniques.
Antone else know of another technique? Leave a comment!