Café Brûlot: The Perfect Meal-Closer to Thrill Your Pyro Buddies

The tux is totally optional -- just make sure it's flame retardant.
​With the shadows lengthening and the leaves turning and the temperature due to drop, it's just about time to head to New Orleans for a dose of warm tropical atmo and some spicy, belly-expanding sustenance. We recommend an indulgent evening at Galatoire's: a glass of amontillado, a bowl of turtle soup, speckled trout amandine and artichokes Creole with a bottle of Pinot Gris followed (why not?) by a thick slab of chocolate pecan pie. And as a grand finale, the legendary café brûlot.

This spectacular meal-closer was ostensibly invented by Jules Alciatore of Antoine's restaurant back in the 1890s, but we prefer to believe it was first concocted half a century earlier by one Dominique Youx, who was not only privateer Jean Lafitte's top lieutenant, he was the philosopher who first came up with the adage "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker" (albeit in French). Whatever its culinary heritage, the drink has concluded many a swellegant New Orleans supper for well over a century. And if you can't raise the funds for a trip to Galatoire's or Antoine's, you can wow your friends by preparing it at your next dinner party.

Traditionalists might want to invest in a special copper brûlot bowl, but a chafing dish works just fine. Remove the peel from two oranges and two lemons in long unbroken spirals. Stud each peel with three whole cloves. Muddle together six lumps of sugar and a cinnamon stick in a chafing dish over low heat. Add the studded citrus peel, a cup of brandy, and 2 ounces curaçao. Step back and ignite the brandy, stirring everything together with a long-handled ladle and (this is the showbiz part) lifting the peel so the liquid fire drips down the spirals. Slowly add a quart of good strong Creole coffee and continue stirring until the flames die. Serve this thick, sweet, spicy brew in demitasse cups with plenty of Sid Catlett, Irma Thomas, Terence Blanchard, and Champion Jack Dupree.

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