It is a simple fact that people love stuff that's on fire, whether it's as small as a cigarette or as massive as a fire pit. It is also a simple fact that people love booze. But only a small, hardened group of expert bartenders has the stamina to combine the two. For Cocktail Week, here now are 10 San Francisco bars that serve cocktails lit on fire, whether they're to enhance the flavor (as in a classic New Orleans-style Cafe Brulot) or enhance the party (hello, volcano bowls). Light it up.Read More
10 Flaming Cocktails to Set Your Night on Fire
Where to mix your alcoholism and your pyromania.
1. Smuggler's Cove
The grandaddy of flaming cocktail emporiums, this tiki-inspired bar is best known for the Volcano, which blends private reserve rum, pineapple, lime, passion fruit, and maraschino in a bowl anchored by four tiki heads, each of which are set aflame. It serves four drinkers.
2. Bamboo Hut
San Francisco, CA 94133
A lot less classy than Smuggler's Cove's bowl (though equally fun), the Bamboo Hut volcano bowl is a frozen drink in banana, strawberry, or coconut for $20 (or $12 at happy hour), with a flaming shot of 151 in the middle. It serves 2-3, though the occasional intrepid boozehound tackles it solo.
3. The Nags Head
San Francisco, CA 94121
This rowdy dive bar has a sideline in flaming shots like the Lamborghini, which is set on fire and sipped by the drinker while two more shots are added to quench the flame. Flaming Dr. Pepper shots are another house specialty. It's filled with the kind of beginner drinkers who love this stuff, so be warned.
Hecho's Guns a Blazin', a combo of gin, green Chartreuse, pineapple, lime, and cardamom bitters, arrives with a hollowed-out lime, en fuego, on top. Order with the fajitas for the full effect.
5. Gaspar Brasserie
The Cafe Brulot, a New Orleans after-dinner favorite, is prepared tableside at Gaspar, with cognac, orange liqueur, sugar cubes, cinnamon, and cloves. It's set aflame, then extinguished with coffee. For $28, it serves two people.
6. Tosca Cafe
Tosca Cafe also offers a cafe brulot, in a slightly less dramatic fashion than Gaspar. Here, the brandy and spices are assembled in a glass, with coffee poured over from a French press; the bartender then sets the orange peel inside alight.
7. Dirty Habit
Brian Means makes his Pink Elephant by setting a glass of absinthe on fire, then pouring over a shaken mix of gin, pineapple syrup, lemon, and vermouth to create an after-dinner powerhouse that's still refreshing.
8. Colibrí Mexican Bistro
Not for the faint of heart, Colibri's Macho Margarita is made by setting an entire jalapeño aflame, then muddling it into a margarita. It's hot in more ways than one.
They can't always accommodate it, especially at busy hours, but every once in a while, Bergerac will create a domino effect of their Fireball Inside Her drop shots, balancing them on the rim of a glass of cider. A fire-breathing bartender will set them all aflame, then knock them into the glasses in a row. It's an impressive show, and the resulting drink is a chuggable dose of apple-cinnamon goodness.
10. Topsy's Fun House
Befitting a clown-themed bar, the Old Flame at Topsy's is a Basil Hayden's Old Fashioned with a twist: a pour of absinthe on top that the bartender sets on fire.