Warm Up & Wake Up with Cafe Brulot

11 Dec

What could be more sublime than to taste
the delights of heaven while beholding the
terrors of hell?” 

— John Ringling of circus fame, on tasting café brulôt


The ceremonial rite of preparing café brulôt was developed from the custom of French bon vivants who liked to poise a spoon holding a sugar lump drenched in cognac over a demitasse of dripped coffee. This was set alight and kept burning until just before the sugar began to caramelize, then it was lowered into the cup. In 1890, Jules Alciatore of Antoine’s conceived the idea of placing the brandy in a dish with lemon peel, lumps of sugar, and spices then adding fireworks. Sometimes, the café brulôt was served in a hollowed out orange skin, the rind adding piquancy to the spicy drink. Later, the drink later became a popular way to disguise alcohol during Prohibition. 

“Usually you have café brulôt after a big
meal where you’ve already had drinks,
several bottles of wine and possibly even
champagne. By the time you’ve drunk the
brulot, you’re wide awake and dead drunk
at the same time.”

Jon Newlin, New Orleans gastronome & bon vivant


1 stick of cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1 orange peel, taked from the orange in one long piece
1/4 cup thinly slivered orange peel
1/4 cup thinly slivered orange peel
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup brandy
2 Tablespoons orange flavored liquor
3 cups hot, strong black coffee

Combine cinnamon, cloves, slivered citrus peels, and sugar in a chafing dish or a cafe brulot bowl over low heat.  Muddle together as sugar dissolves.  Add brandy and orange liquor and increase the heat.  Mix well.  Light the mixture on fire.  Ladle the flaming mixture down the intact orange peel for a more exciting presentation.  Add hot coffee to flaming mixture and serve in cafe brulot cups or demi-tasse cups.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum
has a cafe brulot bowl and cups on display in its Louisiana Exhibit.  Reproductions of Antoine’s Restaurant 1890’s  Café Brulôt cups with the devil design can be found at Adler’s website.  Café Brulôt can be served any time of the year and waiters actually put the flame on the tablecloth.  Some waiters serving Café Brulôt can write a patron’s name in flaming liquid on the tablecloth.  To hear Galatoire’s waiter Gilberto Eyzaguirre’s oral history with the Southern Foodways Alliance, click here.

One Response to “Warm Up & Wake Up with Cafe Brulot”


  1. My Experience: Antoine’s | culicurious - July 30, 2011

    […] I first came across that quote at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and found it on the web here. First dessert – Cheesecake with berry sauce and whipped cream; pretty good (came with the 3 course […]

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