It’s this time of the year again when people, alcohol, fire, and sugarloaves are mixed together in different variations to create what some of us might know as Feuerzangenbowle. Some prefer mulled wine with spices. It is a very popular drink that brings warmth but if you feel like you need some extra heat, in every sense of the word, you usually choose “fire tongs punch” – that’s the literal translation for Feuerzangenbowle.
Flammable drinks ignited prior to consumption are not uncommon both at the bar and in the kitchen. Flambe is a cooking procedure in which alcohol is poured into the hot pan on the stove causing bursts of flames. Crêpe Suzette, steak Diane, coq au vin are just a few well-known dishes that utilize the flambe method. But you can put fire on almost every dish on the stove. You just need to be perfectly aware that this might cause fire and that your particular dish needs that alcoholic punch. In restaurants, of course, dishes can be flambeed right in front of you at the tableside as a part of the performance. Speaking of which, bartenders just looove igniting cocktails. From B52 and Bailey’s comets to flaming martinis, gorillas and lamborghinis. But it all started in 1862 with Blue Blazer. Jerry Thomas took a classic Chrismas-y drink hot toddy and turned it into “blazing stream of liquid fire” while pouring it from one mug to the other. Then he added a little sugar and a lemon peel.
Feuerzangenbowle is a more kitchen-friendly drink and can be performed without special skills of catching flaming alcohol. And that’s one of its solid advantages. Another solid thing that you would need to make this drink is a special metal holder called fork. It holds a sugarloaf over the wine. You’ll need 2 bottles of it (for 10 serves) gently warmed in a large pot with the juice of 4 oranges and 1 lemon, 3 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves, 1 pinch each of ground allspice, ginger and cardamom. Pour red wine into the appropriate heatproof mugs. Soak one sugar cube in rum, place it onto the fork and ignite. It will immediately catch fire and start melting, dripping into the wine. You can add more rum as it goes. Eventually, when the sugar completely burns off, stir the concoction and have a great evening!
You might want to be 100% authentic so that nobody can reproach you using a fork instead of a real Feuerzange. If so, you’ll need some traditional equipment: a serving bowl with a candle beneath and sugar tongs. All can be purchased online without a problem. Heat your wine with juice and spices and transfer to the bowl – the candle flame will keep the beverage warm. Place the sugarloaf (which can also be bought online) on the metal holder, soak with rum, ignite and watch it melt into your wine. When done, remove the Feuerzange, stir well and serve. Do you feel the Gemütlichkeit already?