When firewater splashes a paleface

15 Feb

Professor Jerry Thomas’ signature drink was the Blue Blazer, a fiery blend of whiskey, water and sugar, not unlike the concoction to which Vyacheslav Molotov unwittingly gave his name, and which the pioneering mixologist flamboyantly flung from one mug to another before his rapt patrons. Now, the danger inherent in combining alcohol, sucrose and a naked flame ought to be fairly clear. I think we can all agree that the  subject of this nineteenth-century news item learned a valuable lesson:

A number of congenial spirits were recently discussing the merit of fancy drinks in a Canton restaurant when a lively Frenchman offered to mix some French punch, a drink which he declared to be “fit for the gods”.

He put a quart of old rye in a saucepan and added several spoonfuls of sugar and the juice of a lemon. The saucepan was then put over a fire and allowed to simmer.

The potation did not simmer quick enough for the Frenchman, and with a view of hastening the operation he threw a number of lighted matches into the pan. These ignited the mixture and in an instant a sheet of blue flame burst from the pan and set fire to the Frenchman’s whiskers and hair. The moustache and imperial, of which he was so proud, were burned off, as were also his eyebrows.

While all present sympathized with the Frenchman, everybody voted his punch excellent.

— “Lost His Imperial”, Baltimore Sun, 2 February, 1895, p. 10.

Andrew Sexton, Self-Portrait (2006).

 

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