At left, is Jerry Thomas, author of what is arguably the very first cocktail guide. He is preparing the Blue Blazer, a drink he invented.

And, yes, it involves a great deal of fire.

At it’s heart, the Blue Blazer is simply a fancy hot whiskey toddy. By adding combustion, however, Thomas created the most terrifying and most awesome cocktail of all time.

Someday I will have to devote one of these columns to Jerry Thomas. But not tonight.

Tonight, I will simply leave you with this recipe….

The Blue Blazer
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 oz Bookers Bourbon (it is flammable)
2 1/2 oz boiling water
2 heavy silver-plated mugs
Pour water and sugar into one mug. Pour bourbon into the other. Ignite bourbon. Pour flaming bourbon into the other mug and mix drink by pouring the flaming liquid back and forth between mugs. If well done this will have the appearance of a continued stream of liquid fire. Serve in a mug with a twist of lemon.

In his 1862 Bartender’s Guide, Jerry Thomas advises:

The novice in mixing this beverage should be careful not to scald himself. To become proficient in throwing the liquid from one mug to the other, it will be necessary to practise for some time with cold water.

“Scald”? No. I think that is an understatement.

I must confess, I have never attempted this cocktail. I have seen too many drunkards in dance clubs scarred by flaming sambuca shots. I can only imagine how much worse the damage of a poorly tossed Blue Blazer.

And I’ve a wife and child to think of. Now, if I were a young man….