Slideshow: Ask a Bartender: When There's Fire in the Bar

Writing a Girl's Name in Fire
Writing a Girl's Name in Fire
"A bartender I was working with at one time lit the whole marble bartop on fire with a girl’s name written out.....he was trying to impress her, but instead scared half the crowd at the bar." —Kevin Diedrich (Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen)
Hair, Drapes, and Newspapers
Hair, Drapes, and Newspapers
"There's the time, when I was a waiter, an old woman was reading the paper with her breakfast, came too close to the candle, and half of it went up in flames... or the time I had to leap over the bar to put out drapes that were on fire from candles left too near. Recently, a girl was leaning over the bar, talking to her date, and her hair hung down right into the candle. I looked over and a flame was just crawling up her hair. I lunged for her and grabbed that chunk of hair, yanked down, and caught the flame—she gave me a what the hell? look, but figured it out pretty quickly when she saw her scorched hair." — John McCarthy (Mulberry Project, Vinatta Project)
Melting Straws
Melting Straws
"Nothing too insane. I've just seen some people try to brulee egg whites with straws in the glass and melt the straw down. I don't think anyone likes melted black goo in their cocktail." —Brian Means (Fifth Floor)
Flaming Rum
Flaming Rum
"Oh, shit yes! There used to be a dive bar on 23rd Street in NYC called Bar X. (Ultimately closed down, I think for serving to minors too many times.) Drinks came in little plastic cups. Kind of place the bartenders were always pouring rounds for patrons. Late one night a bartender offered to make me something "special." I don't recall what he mixed together but it culminated with him putting the drink down in front of me, him taking a big swig off a bottle of 151 proof rum and then spraying it all over top of the bar and igniting it. That *was* special." — Michael Lazar (Hog & Rocks)
Fire Alarms and Flaming Hair
Fire Alarms and Flaming Hair
"Two stories, first one was my fault. I was making some burnt nutmeg hot toddy and I made 14 in a row that set off the fire alarm on opening night. Another time, this guy was drunk making out with a girl at the bar and they were going at it so badly that she dipped her hair in the candle and literally it went up so bad and fast she lost half her hair! I didn't notice immediately and she had no idea that she was on fire until I put her out with the soda gun." — Jeremy Strawn (Black Hound Bar & Lounge)
Flaming Bar Top
Flaming Bar Top
"There’s an old New Orleans after-dinner cocktail called Café Brulot; it consists of overproof rum, curacao, spices, and coffee...the whole thing is set on fire and poured over a coiled, clove-studded orange peel that burns with blue flame. If done correctly the bowl will be aflame and the cloves will spark and pop. If done incorrectly the bar top will be aflame and the ceiling will have scorch marks. Should that situation arise take note and use a little less overproof rum next time." —Mike Ryan (Sable)
Fire-breathing Patron
Fire-breathing Patron
"One night I poured some Chartreuse for a patron at L’Amant, put it on fire and guess what? The client drank it right away cause he was a fire breather! The guy was the main attraction all night!" — Thibault de Lepinay (L’Amant)
Fireballs
Fireballs
"At one of my old joints, I used to do 'fireballs', holding 151 in my mouth, and my fingers and lighting my fingers on fire, then blowing the 151 into the flame. Obviously didn't have a beard at the time."— Nate Howell (Cusp Dining & Drinks)
The Blue Blazer
The Blue Blazer
"I'm a big fan of the Blue Blazer, a Jerry Thomas classic where high proof liquor (generally whiskey) is hurled, while flaming, between two metal tankards and served hot toddy style. It is a sight to see and has daredevil status as far as cocktail flair goes." — Chris James (The Ryland Inn)